Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Lesufi’s centralisation of food aid in Gauteng immoral and probably unconstitutional

The guidelines issued by the acting MEC of Social Development in Gauteng, Panyasa Lesufi, that are aimed at centralising all food aid in the province under his administration is, in the FF Plus's view, unconstitutional.

Apart from the fact that there exists some doubt as to whether the national regulations that President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet issued are indeed lawful in all respects, Lesufi himself has now also issued guidelines regarding the provision of emergency food aid by the provincial government as well as private institutions and community organisations.

The guidelines stipulate that the government must receive all donations which they will then distribute. Any private institutions and community organisations that want to distribute aid themselves must first register and obtain permission from the Department.

The FF Plus has identified various legal and practical flaws in the guidelines and the party will take these up with the Gauteng Premier. It is imperative for the government to realise that the regulations and prescribed actions in terms of the Disaster Management Act are still subject to the Constitution.

The following legal and practical problems must be addressed:

1. The guidelines are most probably unconstitutional seeing as they are in contravention of Section 11 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to life – a fundamental right – as well as Section 27(1)(b) which guarantees access to enough food and water. Should the Gauteng ANC government's actions in any way put someone's life at risk, it would be unconstitutional.

A case can be made that death due to starvation is a greater probability than death due to Covid-19. Given the problems currently experienced by the Gauteng government to get food parcels to where it is needed quickly enough, the centralisation of emergency food aid will only make things worse and result in many more people dying of starvation-related causes.

The private institutions and community organisations that truly understand the specific community's needs and can generally respond faster and more effectively could be prevented, either arbitrarily or by the Department of Social Development's administrative red tape, from performing the necessary interventions where there exists real need.

The ANC government could also exploit the provision of food for furthering its own agenda. Seeing as there is no real oversight to oversee who is allocated aid and who is being marginalised, the system is very vulnerable to exploitation. On this point, the FF Plus has already submitted a request to the Premier, David Makhura, to allow all the political parties in the Legislature insight into the list of beneficiaries, to which he agreed. This has not yet been implemented and it will also not solve the problem of slow service delivery where people have an urgent need for food.

Thus, private institutions and community organisations must be allowed to continue with their efforts to address an ever-growing humanitarian disaster. That means that they must be allowed to continue with their work after obtaining an emergency services permit and without having to request written permission from the Department of Social Development for every single project.

2. Secondly, Lesufi's guidelines carry no legal authority seeing as all regulations and directives can only be issued by the President and the Cabinet. These powers have not been delegated to the Gauteng government.

3. Lastly, the guidelines are in contravention of the aims that regulations and directives are required to adhere to in terms of Section 27(3) of the Disaster Management Act, namely (a) assisting and protecting the public, (b) providing relief to the public, (c) protecting property, (d) preventing or combating disruption and (e) dealing with the destructive and other effects of the disaster.

The inadequate assistance currently being provided to the public due to food shortages and slow service delivery undermines the stated aims. Implementing a system where an authorisation letter must first be obtained from the provincial government will only further undermine any form of essential assistance provided by private institutions and community organisations.

Thus, the FF Plus will officially raise the issue of the centralised control of emergency food aid during the weekly virtual meeting of opposition party leaders and the Premier and will demand the assurance that private institutions and community organisations will be allowed to continue with their work without having to obtain authorisation letters first.

The FF Plus is committed to ensuring that the government acts quickly and fairly toward all communities with pressing food shortages, which seems to threaten to develop into the biggest humanitarian disaster since World War II.

Communities must, thus, also be allowed to look after themselves by means of lawful private institutions and community organisations providing aid. Absolute dependence on the government will ultimately lead to the restriction of democratic leeway and freedom, not to mention growing famine.

Contact details: 082 391 3117



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