Editor's note: Zuma cousin to coin it

2013-07-14 06:00

The 12?million South Africans who do not have enough to eat every day should, of course, all be our priority.

And that President Jacob Zuma is putting his power and influence behind an attempt to end food insecurity and malnutrition is laudable.

But that is where the questions must start.

For, here in a nutshell, is our president’s solution.

His cousin, the energetic Deebo Mzobe, runs a one-man campaign called Masibambisane (isiZulu for “let’s work together”).

It is an attempt to provide equipment and other forms of agricultural support to small farmers (occasionally assisted by large agribusinesses) by pooling the resources of five departments, but until now there’s little to show for its work.

Masibambisane is classified as an NGO and the president chairs it.

Together, he and Mzobe have managed to get five departments to commit R895?million to the campaign known as the Integrated Food and Nutrition Security Initiative.

The lines are so crossed here, they will make you bleary-eyed.

The president of the Republic of South Africa heads the NGO, run by his cousin, which has secured a commitment of almost a billion rand from government departments to fight food insecurity.

Why? The state is large and should be able to run the programme as Brazil’s government did.

The NGO will ostensibly not get a cent (but we don’t know this because its books are not available for public scrutiny), but government’s entire food security and nutrition policy will be outsourced to Masibambisane to execute.

Mzobe is also a businessman who does a lot of work for the state, so it could be argued that Masibambisane is one brilliant effort to market himself at the highest levels of government.

How? His access to the president means he has ministers on speed dial as well as senior public servants.

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