Durban – THE Department of Social Development has named and shamed organisations for their failure to deliver food parcels to thousands of hungry people during the national lockdown.
It outed non-profit organisations (NPOs) Healing Peps – Midlands Cluster, Widowed Woman of South Africa (WWOSA) – Ulundi Cluster, Insikazi Foundation – Pietermaritzburg and eThekwini clusters, as responsible for the failure.
These NPOs were responsible for the supply of food to poor people throughout the province.
It emerged last week, during a heated two-day exchange between members of the social development portfolio committee and officials, that the department had delivered food parcels to just 1025 communities during the lockdown between the months of July and August.
The department had purchased food parcels valued at R25million, and these were supposed to have been delivered in hampers to more than 176 000 people in those two months.
Department officials were then summoned to the meeting where each of the districts was called to explain its failure. Each cluster was asked to explain what it had done to distribute the parcels.
The department said it had received a total of 88450 legitimate requests and deserving cases from social workers.
In a statement yesterday, KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said they had instituted a formal investigation into the failure by non-profit organisations to deliver Social Relief of Distress (SRD) to needy communities in the province.
“The investigation will determine circumstances surrounding the payment to NPOs to render this critical service, but (who are) now claiming that their coffers have been depleted due to operational costs.”
The department said during this quarter, it allocated an amount of R25m for SRD. However, during engagements between the MEC and departmental management, NPOs cited lack of capacity as one of the reasons they were unable to meet the demand.
“We have taken a tough stance against corruption and demand clean governance. Our obligation as members of the executive is to ensure that public funds are managed properly. The time for people to just get away with mismanagement and the abuse of public funds should come to an end,” said Khoza.
The department said it had even allocated assets to NPOs, such as bakkies, trucks, forklifts and petrol cards to deliver SRD.
Khoza said she was concerned about the inconsistency of officials tasked with the responsibility to work closely with the NPOs to provide such services to the needy.
“It is impossible that the department can pay such a huge amount of money to benefit the poor and needy communities, but only to be told that it (the money) was exhausted without producing any portfolio of evidence.
“We cannot accept that SRD only reached a few beneficiaries, but the funds had already been exhausted. These NPOs, together with the officials responsible, should provide us with evidence as to where and when the food was delivered.
“The investigation will get to the bottom of this matter so that we can rid the department of maladministration claims and focus on service delivery to the people,” she said.
The director of non-profit organisation Healing Peps, who did not want to be named, said last night that this was the first time he had heard about the investigation. He said the NPO had submitted a portfolio of evidence to the auditor towards the end of last month.
“The money has not run out. The stock is full at the warehouse and we are still busy supplying (food parcels),” he said. He added that he was uncertain where the notion had come from that the money allocated to Healing Peps had run out. He said the investigation did not concern him because he submitted bank statements and the proof of vouchers being supplied.
Healing Peps supplied vouchers in the form of food parcels to more than 3000 beneficiaries. He said they had experienced challenges in terms of capacity in getting the parcels to beneficiaries.
“The department has given us some motor vehicles but its capacity can’t always cope with the supplies to be delivered.” He said the department had recently offered to assist in fast-tracking the delivery of vouchers. The recipient names, delivery times and location came from the department, he added.
“We always do what the department tells us to do. There has not been a day that we did not deliver a request.”