NEWS & ANALYSIS

DA takes Lindiwe Zulu to court today over food distribution restrictions

DSD's draft regulations issued two weeks ago and are being enforced, says James Lorimer

DA takes Lindiwe Zulu to court today over food distribution restrictions

Note to Editors: Please find a copy of the DA's Heads of Argument here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) case against Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, takes place in the Western Cape High Court today.

The DA has brought the action after Zulu’s department enforced a ban on soup kitchens and drew up tight regulations that hindered the distribution of food parcels by NGOs and charities.

The draft regulations were issued two weeks ago and have been applied even though they have not been legally processed.

A large number of food relief organisations were told by the police or by officials of the Department of Social Development (DSD) to stop giving out food. We believe thousands of people have suffered malnutrition and hunger as a result.

In court the DA will say that the Minister has no authority to issue such regulations, that the regulations are irrational anyway, that she didn’t follow proper procedures and that the regulations contradict the constitutional right to food.

In a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee meeting yesterday Minister Zulu denied she’d blocked food distribution. She then contradicted herself by defending her restrictive regulations, saying they were to ‘ensure coordination” of food relief efforts.
Anybody who believes the Department of Social Development , which cannot even properly pay SASSA grants, can in two weeks establish a countrywide network to feed millions of people is deluded.

In contrast, thousands of formal and informal NGOs have been feeding people and are well informed about where help is most needed. It should be the role of government to let them get on with it and fill in the gaps.

We know that Zulu is dissembling and floundering. What we don’t know is whether she really believes her department is so efficient it can feed millions (which has already been disproved by facts on the ground) or whether she is so cynical that she doesn’t care if people can starve just so long as she can control the supply of food for the purpose of getting votes. Clinically deluded or biblically wicked? Time will show us the answer.

Update:

Food distribution safe for a month as court blocks Lindiwe Zulu’s starvation regulations

The Western Cape High Court has postponed the Democratic Alliance (DA) challenge to Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s attempt to regulate the distribution of food.

In the meantime, though, it has ordered that government is not allowed to prevent people from exercising their existing rights to distribute and receive food. See the court order here.

The court has ordered Minister Zulu to bring this to the attention of social development officials in her department and MECs in all of the provinces. The Commissioner of police has also been ordered to bring this order to the attention of all police officials.

This means that for the next four weeks food distribution by NGOs can continue as normal before the matter finally comes to court.

The DA brought the case after draft regulations started being enforced 3 weeks ago. These regulations shut down soup kitchens and placed stiff regulations on the distribution of food parcels. This stopped food reaching thousands of hungry people as food relief NGO’s were threatened with arrest if they did not stop. We believe thousands of people have suffered hunger and malnutrition because of this.

Minister Zulu defended the regulations, saying relief needed to be coordinated. This is clearly delusional as her department cannot even properly perform its current function, let alone instantly build a proper distribution network to millions of people.

The DA will see the Minister in court for the case on the 19th of June.

Minister Zulu’s callous action morally stained both her and the ANC government.

Statement issued by James Lorimer MP - Member of the DA Shadow Cabinet, 22 May 2020