Furious MPs grill Lindiwe Zulu over food parcels, social grants

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  • Lindiwe Zulu's executive statement to the National Assembly was met with fierce criticism from opposition parties.
  • MPs have accused Zulu of ignoring the poverty faced by millions.
  • Zulu has called on parties to support her department, instead of just criticising.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu faced a barrage of criticism from MPs, who accused her of allowing South Africa's poorest to live off a social grant valued at less than one item of designer clothing in an ANC cadre's wardrobe.

Zulu delivered an executive statement to the National Assembly on Thursday to give MPs an update on the government's social relief efforts during the national lockdown.

But MPs had harsh words for Zulu as many poor households are yet to receive a food parcel and millions more face economic hardship.

Freedom Front Plus MP Tamarin Breedt questioned how poor households will survive once extra funds, paid on top of all social grants, comes to an end in October.

"Minister, you need to tell us whether we and treasury will be surprised come October, when you announce that these top-up grants will be sustained for the future.

"The only real solution to the problem is the sustainable development of our communities. It is not just the department that fails in sustainable development, but the government as a whole.

"If we do not succeed in socially uplifting of our economy, it will be ruined," Breedt said.

READ | BIG bucks: Not introducing a Basic Income Grant could be 'disastrous', says ANC report

She also said the government soon won't be able to afford to pay social grants.

"South Africa cannot afford these grants. It's an absolute disgrace that these grants are also so small.

"People have to live off less than one item of designer clothing in an ANC cadre's wardrobe.

"What you and this department are doing is disrespecting our elderly and most vulnerable," she said.

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe said South Africa's permanent pandemic is that of corruption.

"When the ANC speaks of a better life for all, what they mean is a better life for its cadres. Cadres before our country, cadres before lives and livelihoods.

"President Cyril Ramaphosa's new dawn has sadly been laid bare as nothing more than a long dark night of theft and corruption," Van der Merwe said.

She said, as Zulu outlined her department's Covid-19 plans, ANC cadres stole food parcels.

"But hers was a story half told. While cadres stole food parcels, vulnerable children in the Eastern Cape were forced to eat wild plants to fend off starvation.

"Vulnerable South Africans slept outside closed Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) offices in the cold and rain. Pensioners died in long Sassa queues. Call centre numbers for Sassa went unanswered.

"Gender-based violence increased, with organisations warning of an increase in child abuse, this department simply looked the other way," she said.

ALSO READ | 3 arrested for allegedly conspiring to hack into Sassa system

Van der Merwe also said many social workers are without jobs, while some non-profit organisations are yet to be paid their stipends by the department.

"NGOs in other provinces have seen cuts to their government subsidies, affecting services to the elderly, early childhood centres (ECDs) and more.

"You didn't rise to the challenge for the nine million hungry children, who during the lockdown had no food because their school feeding programmes were closed," she said.

In response, Zulu said they will continue to work on initiatives to improve the lives of the poor.

"Indeed, our systems need re-engineering for them to enable smooth delivery of our services.

"With constructive opposition, I think we can make a big difference in our country.

"The people of South Africa need us, particularly at this time, to really do the best, we can work with each other," Zulu said.

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