MINISTER LINDIWE ZULU RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS OF ATTEMPTS TO PROHIBIT FOOD DISTRIBUTION BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
Pretoria, 15 May 2020: The Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu has noted with grave concern false reports and allegations that the Department intends to prohibit the distribution of food parcels and cooked food to households and communities most in need of humanitarian relief during this difficult time.
South Africa has one of the most progressive legislations in the form of the Non-Profit Organisations Act that acknowledges the essential contribution of the civil society sector, which represents a fundamental part of our democracy.
As a Department tasked with the mandate to ensure access to food security for the poor, especially during this critical time, we are grateful to the private sector, aid agencies and civil society organisations for their generous donations of food to those most in need.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, the Department has changed its modus operandi of serving cooked food at community centres to door-to-door delivery or knock-and-drop, of pre-packed food to families. However, over the past weeks we have seen and been informed of several incidents of long queues and overcrowding at food parcels distribution areas across the country.
The current uncoordinated situation of distributing food parcels creates an environment for the spread of this deadly virus amongst the most vulnerable. Protecting our people against the possible infection of this deadly virus is as important as providing them with food relief.
To avoid the recurrence of such incidents and to comply with the lockdown regulations, the Department drafted directives on the coordination of food donations and other humanitarian relief efforts.
The rationale for these directives is that humanitarian responses to a crisis of this magnitude often involve large numbers of national and international organisations who work in the same geographical areas.
Failure to work together amongst these organisations can lead to gaps in coverage and duplication of humanitarian relief efforts. For this reason, the Department drafted directives to ensure that there is a collaboration, and coordination, of our relief efforts. The regulations are currently being consulted on.
The objectives of the directives is to ensure that the distribution of food parcels is done in a dignified manner that does not expose the beneficiaries to possible infection.
It is for this reason that the Department encourages organisations that are involved in humanitarian assistance to work jointly with the government to ensure that there is a coordinated response and to eliminate opportunities for corruption and manipulation of these relief efforts.
The need for collaboration and coordination of all humanitarian relief efforts between government and civil society organisations is premised on the understanding that the Department alone cannot meet all the unprecedented socioeconomic challenges brought about by this global pandemic.
There are more benefits to all of us working together to strengthen our national response and to reach those most in need wherever they are, than working in silos.
The Department has a long standing and constructive partnership with civil society organisations. In many parts of our country, the Department is working jointly with the sector to address the needs on the ground.
"I take this opportunity to once again, appreciate the speedy and courageous efforts of civil society organisations that continue to meet the basic needs of those most in need during this unprecedented times," said Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT