Fri, Jun 5, 2020

Diversion of food parcels meant for the poor, a cause for concern

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by Rapule Moiloa in Soweto

Lock down did not happen because it was supposed to but it was due to an unforeseen virus that left many people jobless, with out food and caused people’s lives to be on standstill. People who thought of the poor not just about themselves organised food parcels for the poor, the vulnerable and the needy so that they can eat together with their families. However I am disturbed by those who receive these food parcels that instead of taking these food parcels to the relevant people, they help themselves with the same food. These are selfish people who can afford to buy food themselves but they deprive the poor. What should be done when those who are supposed to distribute don’t do the distribution, what should be done when food parcels are found in the back of the car, what can be done when food parcels are distributed at night in the dark for the few or even sold, what should be done when the same food parcels distributed according to structures of the political party and what should be done when the problem is not yet contained?

Land degradation worrying the Penhalonga community

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Press release                                                                                     4 December 2018

Penhalonga community devastated by land degradation

Land degradation, food insecurity and water pollution in the Mutare river has led to loss of animal and human life in the gold mining village of Penhalonga in Manicaland, a province in eastern Zimbabwe.

Two people have died,as have a number of cattle, and the river has shifted its course more than 10 times in the past 5 years.

These social problems have led to the suspension of the mining company, DTZ-OZGEO (Pvt Ltd) in Penhalonga by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), an agency of the climate and environment ministry.

“In 2014, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development made a resolution to terminate the company’s mining licence. The mine left massive land degradation, and since that time there have been illegal gold mining activities happening there,” says community member Lloyd Sesemani

According to Sesemani, the community of Penhalonga has never benefited from DTZ-OZGEO mining activities. The community was not consulted before mining operations began in 2007,and since then there has been no meaningful contribution to services such as road maintenance, and the building of infrastructure like schools and bridges.

There are rumours that the government of Zimbabwe has engaged a mining company from Belarus to restart mining operations in Penhalonga. “We are not against any mining company operating in our community, but we are just against having history repeating itself. With DTZ-OZGEO several families lost farming land which was their only source of livelihood and most of them are now living in abject poverty,” says Sesemani

The community has met and outlined the issues to be addressed before mining activity can resume. These include meaningful consultation with all stakeholders around issues like development in the community, ensuring local procurement, and ensuring the employment of local people in the mines. The mine must have an environmental impact assessment certificate from the EMA. And there needs to be meaningful compensation paid to those who have been affected by operations

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Ubumbano Community Voice website and application is a platform for community activists in Southern Africa to share stories of their struggles for dignity and justice, and for journalists and others to get direct access to those stories. It is supported by the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of faith-based organisations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS CONTACT:

Nhlanhla Kubeka

frayintermedia: Account manager

Tel: +27 11 888 0140

Cell: +27 79 847 897

Email: nkubeka@frayintermedia.com

Lloyd Sesemani

Community member

Tel: +263 71 416 3568

Email: lloydbanda21@yahoo.com

Ashely Green-Thompson

ACT Ubumbano: Change Manager

Cell: +27 83 442 4497

Email: AGreen-Thompson@christian-aid.org

Business as usual in Bramfisher

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by Thamie Mokoena…For the community of Bramfisher in Soweto it is business as usual as people move around as if life is normal and as if the country is not on lock down due to the virus. Yesterday some one was using a whistle to call people out side to the streets because a whistle is used for many things in the townships be it to alert the community for meetings if someone is in danger. In this case the person whistled calling other community members to the street corner for the meeting regarding food parcels as food insecurity is becoming a problem since many people have not been going to work to afford food.

Small business hard hit by lockdown

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For smaller business owners who are not operating online, times like these might be a setback for their businesses. Maybe people should be sponsored with data to run their businesses online or given a better option to do business. Yes, government is assisting but more needs to be done for the sake of the country’s economy and improving lives. People who were doing door to door business are suffering. What should be done to help them? Will they be able to make enough money to take care of their families? Will government be able to offer enough food parcels to make sure they do not go to bed on empty stomachs?

Congestion during SASSA payouts compromised lockdown regulations

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The 6th of May was the last day of the SASSA pay outs.The roads were so packed and there was too much chaos due to people and traffic congestion. The scary part about this was that nobody seemed to be caring about the spread of COVID-19 as some of the people were not putting on masks and not following the 2 meter distancing. I am one of the concerned people about the Coronavirus lockdown going back to stage 5 as there are some people who thinks this pandemic we are faced with is a joke yet everyday we are updated about new cases and deaths caused by this virus.

Meanwhile, at Imbali Crossing there was a road block where all travelers were stopped and asked where they were going,what are they going to do there and were expected to produce permits. Most of the people were asked to go back because they didn’t have permits yet others did have permits and were told either that it’s not the ones they want or they are not specific enough and people who were going to collect Sassa pay outs had to issue their IDs and SASSA cards as proof. People who were going to purchase groceries and buy essentials were also told to go and get permits for that. My worry is where are we going to get permits to buy groceries?

Partisan food distribution worry Phokeng residents

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by Tumi Mokgatle, in Phokeng, Rustenburg local municipality

Day 20 of the lockdown presented a new form of challenges for communities. In Phokeng Ward 4, 5 and 7 wards which are all wards of the ANC. The Councillors issued food parcels but most food parcels did not reach the most needy households.The method used is that community members who attend ward meetings are prioritized as well as those who hold ANC membership cards. The struggle is real as some depend on asking for food from their neighbors who would have benefited. On 15 April 2020, Ward 5 Councillor requested 10 family names as they indicated that they have 10 food parcels. No one knows how the food parcels are rolled out and the provincial authorities are silent. RBA has indicated that they will continue to cater for the families that they know are in needy.

Social Justice Organisation join hands to help the needy in PMB

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by Michael…PMB Covid 19 Concerned Collective is an alliance of social justice organizations that have joined forces to help and support the poor and vulnerable communities in fight against corona virus during the nationwide lockdown which was announced by the President of the Republic of South Africa. The organizations such as PACSA, CREATE, Midlands Community Initiative (MCI) and Arise & Shine Community Organization. The PMB Covid 19, using the principles of SEE,JUDGE & ACT took a collective decision based on the needs of the communities with uMgungundlovu District to mobilize support from family members, colleagues from each respective organizations, the business community and community members to support the food parcels drive initiative with an aim to provide food for the needy families. The food parcels under the #sharewithothers was popularised through social media (Whatsapp & Facebook) and has since distributed 50 food parcels to families in need during this lockdown in areas such as Trustfeed, Swaymani, Thembalihle , Azalea ,Edendela ,Cinderella Park and Sobantu. This initiative gave us an opportunity to interact with the community members and to observe the behaviour of people during this lockdown in trying to curb the spread of the corona virus. Most of the precautions that are meant to be followed such as social distancing and washing of hands are seem not to be followed in most of the above mentioned communities that we visited. We are also planning to raise awareness among these communities on the measures they need to take.

Who will police the police?

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Whilst the lock down is slowly eased I’ve seen that people can do anything to survive even if it means robbing others. I have also realized that some of the police officials are corrupt taking bribes from illegal gamblers. Gamblers are a group of people who stand on street corners pretending as if they don’t know each other so that they can scam passersby. It is worrisome because it is the police who should be ensuring that people do not gather because the lock down is not yet lifted and the spread of the virus is not yet contained. There are also reports that police are harassing foreign shop owners demanding money, food among other things and one shop owner stated that the same police officers came threatened them with arrests if they did not give them what they wanted.

Meanwhile, I have been following food parcels theft story. Councillors were told not to be part of any food parcel distribution but i have heard how it has been difficult for people to get these food parcels. Unfortunately people have been helping themselves with these food parcels. Early this month many people registered to get food parcels but only a few got the food parcels. Recently, I heard that a Councillor had his car filled with the same food parcels that were supposed to have been given to people in Vusimuzi. He was caught in Limpopo and he was arrested for theft then released after paying 5000 rand bail. Someone who declined to be named said that the same person took some of the mobile toilets that belonged to the people who stay at informal settlement in Vusimuzi to rent them out in Limpopo. The intergrity of our duty bearers is now questionable.