The apparent inflated prices for food parcels distributed by SASSA in the Eastern Cape is extremely worrying, with an estimated R16-million or more skimmed off the top of the R48 million made available.
This comes on top of allegations of political bias in the distribution of food parcels made available.
A preliminary investigation, based on the standardised list of content per SASSA food parcel, has revealed that the Department of Social Development could have saved up to 63% if they had bought the goods themselves.
This is based on a simple comparison of the retail prices of the listed items in the SASSA food parcel, taken from a regional bulk retailer in the province. It does not factor in any discounts that the supplier could have received for volume purchases, which would have offset any transport or incidental costs.
Based on the retail prices, had Social Development purchased the goods directly from retailers, the province could have sourced more than 21,000 additional food parcels, that could have gone to people who are literally starving, as opposed to lining the pockets of cadres.
Despite huge profit margins, unscrupulous suppliers have also appeared to have taken shortcuts, supplying expired food items, with reports of some parcels such as those distributed in Mnquma Municipality being maggot infested!
It has also come to our attention that the items were not even packaged into individual parcels, but delivered in bulk, with the packaging being left to officials from Social Development.
The standard food parcel includes: 1 x 12,5kg Maize Meal, 2 x 1kg Movita Porridge, 2 x 750ml sunflower cooking oil, 6 x 400g tins of Pilchards, 3 x 1kg soya mince, 1 x 2,5kg sugar, 1 x 2kg sugar beans, 1 x 2,5kg bread flour, 2 x 100 tea bags, 2 x 10g yeast, 1 x 800g Peanut Butter, 1 x box of 6L full cream long life milk OR 1 x 1kg of full cream powder milk, 2 x 100g of toothpaste, 2 x 500g of washing soap and 3 x packs of 8 sanitary towels.
Based on a shopping basket of comparative goods, the cost of a food parcel with long life milk came to R874.67 while the parcels with milk powder come to R837.17. The SASSA food parcels were costed at R1,365.23 per parcel.
If all parcels included long life milk, an estimated profit of R 16 379 798.40 could be made, while if all parcels included milk powder instead, the profit is estimated at R17 632 006.88.
I will be writing to the MEC of Social Development to request a full account of the suppliers who were appointed, a detailed cost breakdown per supplier, per district, to account for the funds spent and the processes followed in appointing them.
Where there have been irregularities, such as the supply of expired or rotten foodstuffs, suppliers must be immediately be blacklisted, future contracts awarded must be immediately cancelled and all funds paid to them must be recouped.
If evidence of officials or political meddling in the awarding of these contracts is found, criminal charges must be laid.
We cannot allow the connected elite to get rich at the expense of the poor