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​​Joburg’s Government of Local Unity will source food parcels that can provide social relief to one million indigent households in the City over the next three months.

Geoff Makhubo, the Executive Mayor briefed parliament’s portfolio committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs of the City’s intention to fight food insecurity in Johannesburg, laid bare by the lockdown and its socioeconomic aftereffects.

​Makhubo says food parcels will be distributed via an electronic-voucher system with a limited value of R350 per household. The municipality will approach the Consumer Goods Council to assist with negotiating prices and security of supply.

“We also hope to stimulate township economies by empowering shops in our communities to package and redeem these vouchers,” he says.

The Mayor says Joburg has a significant number of residents who need urgent food assistance to manage and mitigate hunger. “This intervention is critical given the increase in the number of households who as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown have suffered a loss of income and subsequently encountered economic hardship,” he explains.

The municipality will work with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to consolidate an indigent register that identifies worthy beneficiaries. “This will ensure that those who benefit are verified through a systematic process,” he says.

The City of Joburg has been receiving food donations from various non-governmental organisations, private individuals and businesses. It has distributed over 45 000 food parcels since the start of the lockdown over a month ago, with Makhubo noting that this was grossly inadequate to meet the needs of all poverty-stricken communities.

The Mayor has urged donors to deliver food through an equitable distribution method. “[This will] avoid the unnecessary social unrest we’ve witnessed in some instances where donors have donated food without coordinated identification of beneficiaries and distribution plans.”

Makhubo briefed the parliamentary committee via Microsoft Teams on Thursday, 14 May about the City’s comprehensive response to food insecurity challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I brought to the committee’s attention that we are gravely concerned at the rising levels of poverty in the City. This has resulted in an increasing number of people and households requiring food and essential supplies.”