Any ward councillor or public representative accused of fraud and corruption during the distribution of food in Gauteng during the Covid-19 pandemic will face the music if found on the wrong side of the law.
So said acting Gauteng MEC for Social Development Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday during the handover of 2 600 12.5kg bags of maize meal by non-profit organisation Meal South Africa at the Tshwane Food Bank.
Lesufi said the province’s social relief intervention of food parcels was tamper-proof and auditable. He said the province had already issued a communique to all councillors and public representatives directing them to stay away from the distribution of food.
All representatives are required to only assist government in collecting the information of those who should benefit, and submit it.
Lesufi said the department was aware of reports by the DA alleging that a Midvaal Municipality councillor was collecting details from residents at a cost of R3.
According to a report in The Citizen, the DA said in a statement earlier this week it would be registering a case of fraud and corruption against an ANC councillor.
The party alleges the councillor along with his team had apparently been going door to door collecting the details of people who are in need of food for a fee of R3.
However, Lesufi said communication was issued to all councillors and other government officials earlier to keep far away from distribution processes even before reports of fraud and corruption.
“Our processes in Gauteng are tamper-proof. Where there are other public representatives identified, we have already handed over their names to the MEC of Cogta [Lebogang Maile] to deal with,” he said.
The MEC said while there have been reports of looting and corruption in other provinces, no such incidents have been reported in Gauteng at this stage.
“We want to assure everyone that as the Gauteng provincial government, our distribution is done by government and not any political party or any public representative because we do not want this process to be tampered and be utilised for political point scoring.”
Acting Gauteng Social Development MEC Panyaza Lesufi poses with the Meal SA team at the Tshwane Food Bank. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)
Meal SA will be donating 40 000 bags of mealie meal to the department over the next three months, which will feed thousands of homes, according to the MEC.
Meal SA’s co-chair Yunus Suleman said the organisation has a target of collecting a million 12.5kg bags of maize meal. He said maize meal was chosen because it is a product which is universal and is used by many households.
“We rely on the social development department to get to beneficiaries. We look forward to extending the reach nationwide, including KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces.”