Councillor accused of meddling in food parcels distribution

There have been allegations of improper food distribution by community leaders across the country.
There have been allegations of improper food distribution by community leaders across the country.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Community members on the West Rand have accused a local councillor of interfering in the distribution of food parcels which were meant for the needy.

Residents of Borwa township in the Rand West Municipality, in ward 26, claim that local councillor Wiseman Matsha totally forgot them when the council received money for the distribution of food parcels.

“The distribution of parcels happened around April 16. We got nothing in our ward. We know our ward councillor received the food parcels but community members did not get anything. How can it be that the whole ward does not get any of the food parcels? We have issues that the councillor got involved in the distribution of parcels in the first place. The ANC and also the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] have stated clearly that councillors should not be involved. We have people in our community who really need the help but they did not benefit,” said one of the residents.

Sowetan has established that the South Deep Education and Community Trust, belonging to Gold Fields, received a request from Rand West of about R300,000 for relief. The trust paid the money and allowed the municipality to help the poor.

However, Matsha dismissed the allegations and said some of the community members in his ward did receive the food parcels.

“The food was limited and could not cater for everyone. I had to prioritise the elderly. I distributed 32 parcels. Even to the ones I gave parcels, it was not enough. I never took anything for myself,” he said.

Matsha added that there are problems within the ward and people who are not happy with him were using the food parcels to fight internal squabbles. Food parcels have caused a lot of friction during the national lockdown as councillors have been accused of having favouritism and even selling the parcels. This compelled the ANC in Gauteng to give an instruction last month that councillors should never be involved in the distribution of food parcels. This task, the party said, should be left to the department of social development which utilizes existing food banks.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has since warned those involved in stealing the parcels that they would face the full might of the law. MMC for social development and health in the Rand West Municipality, Nozipho Mapena, said that Matsha did not do anything wrong. She said there was a limit to the parcels.

“These food parcels were supposed to be shared among the wards. In Rand West we have 35 wards. There was a limit to the number of people who could benefit … the councillor is not wrong. Many ward councillors had those food parcels. They want to bring that councillor into this because of their own infighting within the ward,” Mapena said.

She added that the municipality was only able to distribute 3,000 food parcels, which was fewer than the demand for food in the community.

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