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2024 elections — where leading political parties stand on the critical issue of hunger

2024 elections — where leading political parties stand on the critical issue of hunger
A South African child receives food from the Masiphumelele Creative Hub feeding scheme in Masiphumelele, Cape Town, South Africa 28 May 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA)

We sent questions to the ANC, DA, EFF, IFP, FF Plus, ActionSA, PA, MK Party and Rise Mzansi.

Today’s questions to the major political parties deal with food security.

We asked the ANC, DA, EFF, IFP, FF Plus, ActionSA, PA, MK Party, and Rise Mzansi on 13 March and sent follow-up queries to those who did not respond. Some have still not responded.

Answers are very lightly edited for grammar and typos.

About 12% of South African households experience hunger according to Stats SA. How would your party address food insecurity in the country?

ANC: The ANC did not respond to our questions.

DA: The DA will make it a priority to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by expanding the basket of essential food items exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT). The goal is to provide relief to poor and low-income families.

We’ll promote food gardens to empower communities to independently enhance household food security, well-being and sources of income. We’ll utilise food hubs to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition. A food hub is an organisation or business that aggregates, distributes, and markets locally sourced and regionally produced foods.

EFF: The first step is boosting domestic food production through the prioritisation of small-scale farmers by providing them with technical expertise, trade routes, and ensuring they are primary suppliers to food traders. We will also encourage large-scale production of staple foods to meet domestic needs, while also developing state-led vertical farming initiatives in housing complexes to promote local food production and urban sustainability.

We also recognise the need to establish Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Atvet) programmes to equip people with essential skills like poultry, pig, goat farming, and vegetable production, coupled with basic business management training.

There is also a great need for a comprehensive data collection system to identify gaps in food security policies, healthcare access, and access to basic needs like water and housing.

We will ensure health professionals screen for food insecurity during clinical care, allowing for better patient support and management of health conditions.

We intend to establish a state-owned food stocking company to regulate the prices of essential foodstuffs and ensure food security for all South Africans.

We will expand the list of VAT-free basic food staples, making them more affordable, while we encourage concessions and discounts for vulnerable groups like senior citizens, families, and low-income households on essential goods and government services.

In the long run, the EFF intends to ensure the allocation of resources to municipalities for off-grid, hybrid, and micro-grid solutions to power abattoirs, poultry farms, and irrigation systems, ensuring food security even during power outages.

By supporting local farmers, investing in skills development, implementing data-driven solutions, and providing targeted support to vulnerable populations, we can achieve a South Africa where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food.

IFP: All staple foods in poor households must be exempt from VAT.

Furthermore, we will focus on small to medium-sized farming and subsistence farming, as a core strategy to provide economic relief for rural communities and to address food insecurity. We will address child malnutrition by supporting families who cannot afford to feed their vulnerable children by creating a register and by providing families with food relief through a Sassa voucher programme.

FF Plus: The FF Plus’s Manifesto addresses issues pertaining to sustainable agriculture and fisheries in order to ensure food supply. The cost of food (and living) is addressed by the party’s economic policies. Restoring the economy and the fiscal position will provide a decline in inflation and economic growth could alleviate poverty and hunger.

The role commercial agriculture plays should be recognised and tariff protection; investment in agricultural research; disaster relief and management; and the creation of sufficient infrastructure should be prioritised. Desertification which is threatening arable agricultural land should be combated. Programmes to prevent and reverse desertification should be launched. Communities should be able to also enjoy the benefits of natural resources through sustainable utilisation.

ActionSA: ActionSA will introduce our tiered Universal Basic Income Support (Ubis), which will be specifically calculated at the food poverty line in year one, the lower-bound poverty line in year two, and the upper-bound poverty line in year three.

Coupled with our commitment to expanded access to grants, ActionSA’s priority is to ensure ample economic opportunities to provide households with the dignity that comes from earning an income, minimising the need for social grants.

ActionSA will also foster partnerships with food producers, retailers, and food banks to increase access to nutritional food for those struggling with food insecurity.

We will emphasise local market development to address household-level food insecurity in rural areas.

PA: There is enough food and money in South Africa to make sure that no one has to go to bed hungry. Food banks for the most vulnerable are the most obvious solution.

MK Party: The MK Party did not respond to our questions.

Rise Mzansi: A Rise Mzansi government will use a combination of government income grants, food vouchers for households experiencing hunger, increasing access to piped water in rural areas, land for one’s own food production, and community small-scale farming. Rise Mzansi will also facilitate the development of efficient market linkages between local small-scale farmers and cooperatives with wholesalers and retailers to make the market more accessible and competitive.

How would you improve the national school feeding programmes?

ANC: The ANC did not respond to our questions.

DA: The DA is committed to making sure no learner should go hungry. To address the challenges of implementing the school feeding scheme, the DA will:

  • Address the delays in procurement by shifting from a centralised to a decentralised procurement model at a provincial level, where feasible.
  • Develop training videos and hard-copy content to be disbursed to food handlers on the standards of quality food preparation of various meals.
  • The content will also ensure food handlers are skilled in food preparation.
  • Distribute a digital meal planner, which will assist schools and food handlers in creating menus and ensuring the most efficient and nutritious meal options are delivered based on food cost and availability.

Read more in Daily Maverick: How a working democracy can ensure state accountability in school feeding programme failures

Ghana has successfully implemented a digital meal-planning tool as a mobile application. The application allows users to create the most cost-effective meal with their available ingredients, combined with their nutritional content. It is user-friendly, and even people without a nutritional background can use the tool to create nutritious meal plans.

The tool connects schools to the local farmers in their areas when seeking to source ingredients. It also serves as an educational platform for healthy eating.

EFF: The EFF recognises the vital role school feeding programmes play in child development and learning. We plan to significantly improve this by providing two nutritious meals daily to all learners in all schools by 2025. We will prioritise sourcing this food from local small businesses and farmers, supporting the local economy and promoting healthy, fresh food options. Furthermore, by 2025, every school will be required to have a vegetable garden, promoting environmental awareness, hands-on learning, and providing fresh produce for meals.

We also note the homes these learners come from also need the provision of food, so we will provide a monthly nutritional pack to indigent families receiving social grants, supplementing their food intake and promoting healthy eating habits at home.

IFP: We will ensure that we get the basics right first, by making sure that schools that are currently rolling out nutrition programmes effectively deliver. Thereafter we aim to efficiently run nutrition schemes in all public schools across the country.

FF Plus: The decentralisation of these programmes is important. Effective oversight is also necessary to ensure that money allocated to a school for a feeding programme is utilised for such.

ActionSA: ActionSA is committed to ensuring adequate funding for all feeding scheme programmes, especially for indigent communities, to guarantee sufficient access to nutrition. As part of our commitment to capacitate a professional and corruption-free education system, we will ensure that capable individuals efficiently administer key programmes, such as the National School Nutrition Program (NSNP).

PA: We believe the experience of a school feeding scheme in Colombia piloted by the World Bank shows how greater transparency in public procurement and supply chain management can lead to far less of the money for these public projects being stolen or mismanaged by officials. They used blockchain to encrypt every step of the delivery process. We believe systems like these will improve not just school feeding schemes but can greatly reduce inefficiencies and corruption in all forms of public procurement.

MK Party: The MK Party did not respond to our questions.

Rise Mzansi: The school feeding programmes are vital to the learners and their families. Unfortunately, the National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP) is plagued by corruption with poor monitoring of the programme by provincial departments, and no accountability. It is critical that the Department of Basic Education improve, and where necessary, build proper storage facilities and distribution networks, and impose strict monitoring controls to account for the food supplies.

Secondly, the volunteers should be trained to improve food safety standards to ensure learners’ well-being.

Would you introduce feeding programmes into early childhood development centres?

ANC: The ANC did not respond to our questions.

DA: We do not have a party position on this issue. It is only recently that ECD learning was made compulsory. We will investigate this issue further and develop a position considering the relevant evidence.

EFF: We intend to expand access to ECD programmes, making them free and compulsory for all children from age three upwards. Here, we will also ensure we have focused nutrition programmes, ensuring children receive proper nutrition during their critical developmental stages.

IFP: Yes, we aim to roll this out in all public schools. Furthermore, we will address child malnutrition by supporting families who cannot afford to feed their vulnerable children by creating a register and by providing families with food relief through a Sassa voucher programme.

FF Plus: Feeding programmes at schools and ECDs are essential. A hungry child cannot thrive and this and other socio-economic challenges lead to the current high drop-out rate and low literacy rate.

ActionSA: ActionSA will increase the budget allocation for ECD and increase funding for ECD centres, which will include funding for nutrition programmes to ensure that young children receive adequate nutrition in their formative years.

PA: Yes.

MK Party: The MK Party did not respond to our questions.

Rise Mzansi: Of the Department of Basic Education’s ECD R17 per child per day subsidy, only R6.80 is intended for nutrition. This is insufficient. We simply must accept as a national obligation to ensure no child goes hungry, and no child goes to school hungry. School feeding programmes should be extended to include ECD centres. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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