ANC shrugs as food aid in Msunduzi draws ire from political parties

2014-05-07 00:00

OPPOSITION parties are fuming about food parcels that were delivered on the eve of election to indigent people in areas around Pietermaritzburg by the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa).

A long-bed trailer loaded with food was yesterday parked in Phayiphini, Laduma, Zayeka and KwaShange in the Vulindlela area as hordes of people arrived with wheelbarrows to load up the food.

Sassa staff handed out the generous food parcels to members of the community who had reportedly been previously registered for the donations.

People stood patiently in a queue waiting to get their parcels. Some brought people with them to help them carry the goods home. Some asked passing cars and taxies for lifts home as it would have been impossible for one person to carry all the food.

Sassa spokesperson Vusi Mahaye told The Witness that this was part of a programme of social relief for those in distress. He said 1 850 families qualified for this programme in the area. “The immediate relief is a R1 350 voucher per family until they are helped by the department,” said Mahaye. But the vouchers were yesterday given out as food parcels.

The IFP’s Dolo Zondi said this was unfair to all other parties. “They only registered families that belong to the ANC. They are using taxpayers’ money to buy votes from these people. This should be investigated as why the did this happen on the eve of the election?”

The DA’s Sizwe Mchunu said the ruling party was not able to differentiate between government and party campaigns. “This is an abuse of state resources by the ANC. It’s the first time people in these areas are receiving parcels.”

The EFF’s Reggie Ngcobo said this was an old way of gaining votes used by the ANC. “I was a volunteer for them; we used to hand out food parcels during election times in Richmond. Sassa needs to explain whether these people are needy and what criteria were used [to choose them]. It is a shame that they will only receive parcels before the elections again in five years.”

The NFP’s Ntokozo Bhengu said, “This is a disgrace that they believe that the community only needs these food parcels now. They should be vigilant about this as government is being used to buy votes for the ANC.”

ANC regional chairperson Alpha Shelembe said they knew nothing about the food parcels. “This was a programme of government. If government saw a need to hand out the parcels before the election, there is nothing we could have done. We could not prescribe to government but we are happy that people are receiving services,” said Shelembe.

When The Witness visited one of the places people were confused about who was getting the food aid.

“We registered in April. I used my thumb print and I was told to wait because they would call us to get food parcels.” The parcel included 5 kg of rice, flour, beans, maize meal, samp, sugar, a pocket of potatoes, onions, a case of milk, tea and cooking oil.

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