Buffalo City launches food bank to provide for 40,000 destitute families over lockdown

Buffalo City mayor Xola Pakati explains how the R30 million aimed for social relief during the coronavirus lockdown will be distributed.
Buffalo City mayor Xola Pakati explains how the R30 million aimed for social relief during the coronavirus lockdown will be distributed.

Buffalo City Metro mayor Xola Pakati has introduced a food bank to augment the meal voucher system so that as many destitute residents as possible can benefit from measures to mitigate poverty during the coronavirus crisis.

In a press briefing on Friday, Pakati allayed fears that only 800 destitute people per ward would benefit from the city’s Covid-19 relief efforts.

The city recently announced a R30m fund to assist 800 destitute residents in each of the city’s 50 wards with food vouchers.

The mayor said the food bank, pooling from business and civil society, would assist additional residents who qualified for relief.

Pakati said 40,000 families would benefit through through a voucher system. Each household will receive R750.

“We have taken this approach with the sole intention of avoiding middle-persons as we believe that all the monies should go to the food basket of the beneficiaries. We are also respectful of the dignity of the people of the metro and would therefore prefer not to choose what they should eat,” he said.

Pakati said the voucher system came into effect in some shops on Friday. Details will be communicated by councillors.

The distribution of the food parcels would be staggered between Friday and May 3 to manage foot traffic and congestion in the city.

“Each community has been allocated a food retailer or retailers which will serve the 800 beneficiaries who have been selected.”

Pakati said beneficiaries only needed their IDs to redeem their vouchers.

“We are aware that R30m will not cover everyone and to this effect we have decided to open a food bank where business and civil society in our metro can assist to contribute food... through the voucher method,” the mayor said.

Pakati said businesses and individuals had already made food contributions to the city.

“The food bank we are announcing is to ensure that these efforts are co-ordinated and better channelled so that their impact is easily quantifiable,” he said.

Some residents approached Pakati at his office after the briefing about corrupt elements in the distribution of food parcels.

DispatchLIVE asked Pakati about complaints about perceived corruption in how food parcel lists were drawn up, with some residents claiming councillors gave food to their cronies.

Pakati confirmed that the city had received complaints through the office of the speaker, which was addressing the complaints.

Speaker Alfred Mtsi could not be reached at the time of writing.

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