The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign (SAFSC) on Monday blasted politicians for politicising the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and for not adequately meeting community food needs.
SAFSC demanded that all politicians “desist from handing out food parcels” amid the national lockdown.
In a letter addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, his Ministers and chairperson of the Solidarity Fund, Gloria Serobe, the SAFSC has instead called on the Solidarity Fund to work closely with local government to identify community organisations that can facilitate food distribution in grassroots communities.
This follows a widespread public outcry that many people in impoverished communities have been left hungry during the country’s lockdown.
It has also been reported that in some provinces, government officials are alleged to have been selling food parcels while others are hoarding them instead of distributing to needy communities.
“The Solidarity Fund has centralised resourcing and three weeks into the lockdown it has not been able to effectively ensure food supply, through food parcels. The food crisis is going to persist as long as we have the Covid-19 pandemic. The Solidarity Fund is far from blunting the edge of desperation and hunger. Politicians handing out food parcels is not helping the situation and it politicises the crisis,” the organisation said.
The SAFSC has also called for a partnership with nongovernment organisations who are willing to undertake food distribution.
It has also called for the assistance of the army, navy, military and police to ensure food parcels are distributed in specific communities, while being monitored by local faith-based and community leaders.
“We also would like greater transparency on food parcel pricing and its nutritional content. Moreover, we believe the Solidarity Fund must also be open to receiving proposals from small and micro-level community farmers that need resources to jumpstart production again as part of food sovereignty and agro-ecology pathway building,” the organisation said.
Among its demands, is for government to unlock the food commons including community gardens, small scale farmers, community feeding schemes and subsistence fishers.
They also called for a clear pronouncement that local food producers are part of essential services and will also be supplied with essential health equipment.
They want Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza to dedicate significant financing for small farmers to community-based micro and small scale farmers, households and agro-ecology support NGOs.
They also called for all school feeding schemes to be reinstated under public health guidelines.
“Together let’s ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic is not also a food pandemic. We need decisive leadership now to prevent social collapse through starvation. We have also started a peoples referendum on basic income grant #BIGNOW for South Africa. Many governments in the world are doing everything in their power to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and lockdowns on the lives of their citizens while rising to the public health challenge. The South African government needs to do the same. We need bold, innovative and heterodox thinking now!” said the SAFSC.
For more information on the organisation’s people’s referendum on basic income grant: https://copac.org.za/peoples-referendum-bignow/