"Luidens mediaberigte het Panyaza Lesufi, waarnemende Gautengse LUR vir maatskaplike ontwikkeling, aangedui dat die werk van nie-regeringsorganisasies onontbeerlik is en dat hy graag in gesprek wil tree om 'n middelgrond te vind," sê adv. Anton Alberts, VF Plus-nasionale voorsitter en LPW in Gauteng.
"Dit kom nadat die VF Plus in 'n skrywe aan premier David Makhura (sien onder) gewaarsku het dat die politieke leierskap wat die sentralisering van voedselhulp in Gauteng gemagtig het, persoonlik aanspreeklik gehou kan word op beide siviele en kriminele gronde indien behoeftige persone weens honger of hongerverwante siektes sou sterf.
"Die brief is aan premier Makhura gerig nadat Lesufi besluit het om alle voedselhulp in Gauteng te sentraliseer met die gevolg dat alle skenkers en hulpverleners eers 'n toestemmingsbrief van die departement van maatskaplike ontwikkeling sou moes kry aanvullend tot die standaard permit.
"Op die oomblik is die kans waarskynlik groter om van honger of hongerverwante siektes om te kom as om vanweë die Covid-19 virus te sterf.
"Die burokratiese rompslomp weens sentralisering gaan veroorsaak dat hulpverlening vertraag word en sodoende die waarskynlikheid verhoog dat mense verder sal verhonger of sterf.
"Soos sake tans staan, kan die Gautengse regering se voedselprogram reeds nie die behoeftes hanteer nie, laat staan nog 'n gesentraliseerde stelsel waar talle toestemmingsbriewe uitgereik moet word.
"Die behoeftes het juis drasties verhoog omdat al hoe meer middelklas-persone en -gesinne ook nou by die armes aangesluit het as voedselbehoeftiges. Daarom moet burgerlike organisasies en ander instellings wat hulp verskaf, eerder as vennote en engele beskou word wat die regering se eie voedselprogram aanvul.
"Die Gauteng-regering kan hom eerder daarop toespits om opleiding aan organisasies te gee oor hoe om voedsel op 'n veilige wyse uit te deel en hulle daarna toelaat om met hul goeie werk voort te gaan ter wille van alle behoeftiges in Gauteng.
"Die VF Plus sal die proses monitor om te sorg dat nie-regeringsorganisasies die vryheid het om hul goeie werk voort te sit," sê Alberts.
Dear Premier Makhura,
I would like to urgently discuss the above matter with you.
On 27 April 2020 MEC Lesufi issued a media statement with the above-mentioned heading. In this statement he outlined guidelines with regard to the distribution of food donations to the Gauteng government food bank(s) and the distribution of food directly to beneficiaries by organisations.
This guideline presents a number of problems with regard to getting aid expeditiously to beneficiaries who are in dire need. The need for food assistance is growing exponentially while conversely the ability of the Gauteng government to provide such assistance continuously just in time is decreasing. This disjoint between the need and ability to meet it is of grave concern from both a humanitarian and security perspective. Communities are growing restless as the pangs of hunger continues to grow. Under such circumstances people will do anything to survive.
The introduction of new bureaucratic hoops to jump through for aid organisations in the form of authorisation letters only serves to exacerbate the situation of the delivery of food before a community takes the law into their own hands. Given the scope of the need in Gauteng - the poor and homeless now joined by the middle class - it is an impossibility for the Gauteng government to ensure distribution to all those in need. The ability of the government to effectively process authorisation letters with due haste is also a great matter of concern. Furthermore, there is not clarity whether the guidelines also endeavours to pull individual donors and givers into its orbit.
It is, therefore, our concern that these guidelines will lead to the exacerbation of an already human-made calamity of hunger and hunger-induced sicknesses as part of the response to COVID-19. It is our view that at the moment the weight of probability of dying from hunger and its effects is far greater than that of COVID-19. And irrespective of what the science or models might say to the contrary, communities will most certainly view their hunger plight as the most immediate danger and concern and will act accordingly. Should law enforcement be deployed in those circumstances, basically innocent hungry people will be criminalised for the mere act of trying to survive. This will present one of the greatest travesties in our history that will dwarf Marikana and Life Esidimeni.
While there are humanitarian considerations to cease the authorisation practice, the law will also weigh in. Our view is that the law will side with the hungry communities in this regard as the right to life in terms of Section 11 of the Constitution is paramount and no legislation or any derivative rule can override this non-derogable right. The conclusion is that any rule that overrides people's ability to find a way to survive by receiving donations without it being sanctioned by the state, will be unconstitutional. The corollary of this right is that should the Gauteng government assume the sole responsibility to provide food and/or authorise the provision therefore, any mistakes that lead to the non-provision of food will open the government to legal attack, including holding the executive members personally liable, not even to mention possible criminal liability. There are also other legal arguments which I am not going to mention at this stage, but suffice to say the arguments are numerous.
As such, we request that the Premier re-evaluate these guidelines and view all organisations and individuals who endeavours to care for the hungry as social partners and angels, not mere entities that deserve to be regulated. Given the fact that these angels work in support of the Gauteng government, a new approach should be considered. As it stand, many organisations are now considering withdrawing any donations due to the onerous central control system. They have requested myself to engage with you in this regard to find a new balanced path to ensure that we can save all of the hungry people in our province.
It is our considered view that the government hold workshops with all their social partners and donation organisations to provide training in responsible care giving and food provision. They should thereafter be left to their own devices to assist where they can as community-based organisations know where the true needs are. The government would then deliver assistance where such need was registered with its front office. These two systems will rarely overlap, but even where they do, it is our view government cannot prohibit other actions to alleviate the plight of the needy.
The new system of authorisation is unsustainable and cannot work under any circumstances due to the scope of the needs. A partnership approach is the only way forward.
We hope that you will receive our letter in the good spirit we have intended it to address this matter and that we can engage in finding a lasting solution to the benefit of the hungry people of Gauteng.