The failing ANC-led Provincial Government has decided to issue people in the province with bank cards pre-loaded with R1 500 cash, after failing to spend the money entrusted to them by the National Government to provide relief to those in distress.
After failing to spend more than 86% of the R164 million in grant funding given to the Department of Social Development to assist families in dire need, the Department has now blown through the funds in a month to spend it before the financial year ends, today.
The R122 million question that needs to be asked is who will be cashing in on this bonanza?
While the Democratic Alliance welcomes that the funds are finally being used, our concern is that this process could open the floodgates to corruption. Given the province’s history, what assurances are there that these will reach the right beneficiaries?
The grant funding was meant for social relief of distress, which is primarily used to fund food parcels to those in dire need, but only R22 million was spent.
At the very last minute, the Department has decided to release the remaining R122 million, through an arrangement with First National Bank, in the form of pre-loaded funds on bank cards, distributed to beneficiaries.
The rush to get the money released before the financial year-end also raises serious questions regarding who the beneficiaries receiving these bank cards are, and what vetting processes have been done?
One only has to look back at reports of ANC councillors redirecting food parcels earmarked for starving families to look after their own people, to know what risks the promise of free cash has.
A capable state would have used the grant funding to directly procure food items at bulk discount prices and then ensure that food parcels are regularly distributed to the most desperate and destitute of our province. The grant funding could easily procure 195 000 food parcels.
At the very least, the funds could have been used to purchase food vouchers, which would at least guarantee the funds are being used for their intended purpose.
I have now submitted questions to the Social Development MEC, Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, to demand that a detailed explanation of why the funds have been distributed in this manner must be provided.
I will also be demanding that a complete list of beneficiaries who have received these cards be provided.
It is simply unacceptable that the people of this province have been left to starve for a year so that the Department can have a cash bonanza giveaway at the end of it.
The Democratic Alliance will be closely monitoring the distribution of these cash cards, and any irregularities found will be reported to the relevant authorities for further investigation. The DA will continue to fight for the dignity of our people.