Food voucher charge laid

2009-04-13 00:00

COPE plans to lay a charge against the ANC with the Electoral Court following reports that the ANC is using food parcels to buy votes.

Cope spokesman Phillip Dexter said his party will also lay a criminal charge against the head of South African Social Services Agency (Sassa), who has allowed ANC activists to accompany Sassa officials to distribute food parcels, thus using the events as ANC rallies.

Dexter said the DA has already registered its complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). “Cope views these deplorable acts by the ANC as a violation of the electoral act and a clear indication that the ANC has resorted to illegal activities to gain votes. The former liberation movement is also beginning to resemble the now defunct National Party that used to employ these tactics to win electoral votes,” he said.

There have been media reports of stampedes at Sassa offices as news of the free food vouchers have spread among poor communities. There are also allegations that it is mainly ANC councillors that have been compiling lists of names of food voucher recipients.

Employers in the KZN midlands have reported their own staff asking for time off to collect vouchers and returning from Sassa collection points with vouchers valued at up to R960.

Some members of the midlands business community, who have been observing the food voucher frenzy, have warned that stores that have been giving out groceries in exchange for food vouchers may have to wait a long time for their money.

They say this is because of the large number of vouchers given out in such a short period of time. One midlands store has handed out groceries in exchange for over 1 000 vouchers, most of which were valued at R960 each. The storekeeper had to replenish stocks several times and now has to submit the vouchers and wait for his money. It is estimated that this one store is owed more than R1 million.

The Black Sash reported that Finance Minister Trevor Manuel allocated R500 million to the Social Development Department in November last year to use as relief grants.

For NGOs like the Black Sash, which work with the poor, it would be interesting to see, once the election dust has settled, just how many of these grants were handed out in the last three months.

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