City tables concern regarding national draft directions prohibiting distribution of cooked food via public institutions to public
The City of Cape Town has noted with concern the draft directions before Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, which proposes to prohibit the distribution of cooked foods by public institutions for vulnerable citizens. In this regard, I have formally written to the Minister to register the concern of the City of Cape Town and to strongly advise to embark on a different course of action.
The City supports Western Cape Government’s Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez’s concerns that new national draft directions will threaten the food security of our most impoverished communities.
South Africa is facing an unprecedented crisis. The coronavirus pandemic is not only a threat to the lives of many people, but also to their livelihoods. Communities across South Africa have lost the ability to provide for their most basic needs, causing a humanitarian crisis.
The current draft directions is not only an injustice to our vulnerable communities but is an injustice to all our institutions in the public sector who have worked tirelessly to assist impoverished citizens in the face of national government’s failure to effectively and timeously deliver humanitarian relief to local communities.
The City of Cape Town strongly advises Minister Zulu to reject the draft directions, which will only accelerate malnutrition and food insecurity in local communities; contradicts the provision of lockdown Level 4 which allows for the sale of cooked food and is impractical to implement in terms of the issuing of permits to thousands of public institutions providing food relief. The South African Police Service (SAPS) also does not have the capacity to be involved in food relief operations in the province.
We will only overcome this pandemic with a whole of society approach. The national government does not have the capacity or the political urgency to ensure efficient social humanitarian relief in local communities to avoid mass malnutrition among South Africans.
The City’s Executive Mayor Dan Plato continues to support soup kitchens that are providing thousands of warm meals every day to those in need. Mayor Plato is still awaiting a response to his earlier letter sent on 29 April 2020 to Minister Zulu requesting clarity on the operation of soup kitchens following a local resident who had been arrested, allegedly for operating a soup kitchen.
Going forward, the City’s Urban Management Directorate will be embarking on a Food Relief Programme, under the Mayor’s Special Relief Fund, partnering with various public institutions. Details of this will be announced in due course.
I would like to extend my appreciation to all the volunteers who are helping the City of Cape Town feed our vulnerable residents, as well as the many public institutions, businesses and individuals who are responding to the needs of our communities right now with donations, meals and food parcels. Your kindness and selflessness at this time is valued.