Regulations on food parcels unconscionable – IRR

Institute says these open up the way to corruption and mismanagement

Regulations on food parcels unconscionable, and open to corruption and mismanagement – IRR

5 May 2020

Government regulations to centralise the distribution of food parcels at a time when people are starving are irrational, impractical and callous, and fly in the face of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for a national effort.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) notes that in recent days, there have been multiple reports of organisations and individuals being prevented from giving out food to the hungry. Notably, a report emerged from KwaZulu-Natal in which caregivers were prevented from distributing food for lack of a permit.

These restrictions on people to care for their communities can only be described as nefarious politicking in the face of vast socio-economic pressures and concerns. There is no good reason why active citizens should not be able to organise and distribute food to those in need. This amounts to yet another abuse by power-hungry politicians who care more about political and ideological goals than desperate people.

While the people of South Africa have responded laudably, with many organisations launching charitable initiatives – among them, churches, community organisations, and the agricultural organisation, SAAI – government has intervened yet again to regulate by fiat.

IRR researcher Nicholas Babaya said: “Any government which genuinely wanted to help its starving citizenry would welcome any and all acts of charity from civil society. Unfortunately, these regulations and steps taken by politicians only strengthen the impression that the ANC is a power-drunk party intent on making the state the provider of all things, even if it means letting the most vulnerable South Africans suffer unnecessarily. It is simply unconscionable that the government would make it so difficult for citizens to help during this crisis.”

Babaya added: “Given the ANC’s track record of maladministration, corruption and mismanagement, there is little reason to believe any ANC government will succeed single-handedly in providing for the poor during this pandemic, and every reason to be fear the risk of such centralisation of power opening further avenues for corrupt practices.”

The IRR vigorously condemns any efforts to prevent civil society from providing aid during this time of crisis, and calls on all levels of government to put the suffering of hungry people ahead of petty ideological pursuits.

Issued by Nicholas Babaya, IRR Analyst, 5 May 2020