Zulu urges collaboration between govt departments for food security

Feeding scheme
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Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu says, relevant government departments must come together and work towards ensuring food security.

That’s if the Eastern Cape wants to successfully tackle the issue of malnutrition amongst children.

Zulu attended a Child Malnutrition Outreach at Matyengqina village in Mthatha, whilst engaging with residents and traditional leaders about an array of issues.

Poverty and malnutrition are among the many socio-economic issues facing the village.

Last year, a South African Human Rights Commission Enquiry found that 116 children died of severe acute malnutrition between 2021 and 2022 in the province.

Zulu’s visit to the province follows widespread prevalence of malnutrition among children and subsequent complaints from the public.

Zulu called on government departments to work together to ensure food security.

“This money that government is giving to the families is money that is supposed to be at least meeting them half-way because it’s not adequate but at least it is meeting them halfway. So, the plan is to make sure that all the other departments that are relevant – your education, your health – because these children are supposed to be at school and when they are at school, they are supposed to be going through the school feeding scheme. The bigger plan is to focus on food security.”

The Social Development Department says it will also get unemployed social workers on board to assist.

Residents have also been urged to start food gardens to alleviate poverty.

VIDEO | Discussion on the reports of childhood malnutrition, starvation in Eastern Cape: 

SASSA pay points, housing issues

Matyengqina village is mostly characterised by stock theft incidents as well as murders.

Scores of rural communities in the province have been complaining about the closure of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) pay points in their areas.

They lament the long distances they have to travel, and large sums of money spent to access their social grants in town.

They demand the Sassa pay points be brought back.

“We are calling on Sassa to go back to paying us in our rural areas. The elderly struggle to even get transportation to nearby towns”.

“We were told to change and register our bank accounts. It’s been over two years since I changed but I haven’t been paid on my bank account, I’m paid on the old card.”

Minister Zulu cited security issues and costs as some of the reasons that led to the closure of Sassa pay points.

“Sassa is looking for other options which are going to be easier, but the second one is that even the numbers of people who are now going to the pay points have has really, really reduced drastically because most of the people either go to the ATMs or they go to the shops where they can be able to procure. I know that in the rural areas that is not adequate because people want to be able to see the money, feel the money. But it’s also issues of security because as we are all very much aware, we moved away from the pay points on the basis that it’s quite expensive for us to do so but also we are having engagements with other service providers that can be able to assist us with that.”

Some of the residents raised the lack of housing and the dire conditions under which they live.

“I do not have an RDP house. I haven’t received it ever since I applied for it. Getting our money in town is very difficult. We are exposed to danger,” added one resident.

VIDEO | Phasing out of Sassa pay points a huge blow for beneficiaries: