By Everson Luhanga

Starving residents near Marikana in North West took to the streets on Monday to protest about councillors diverting food parcels to their friends, relatives and political allies.

The protestors stood peacefully apart, observing social distancing carefully.

A community member, Mabel Ndaba, said the protestors were desperate and frustrated because of the lockdown.

She alleged that some councillors had given food parcels meant for the poor to their friends and relatives. 

“Some of the people who have received the parcels from the crooked councillors are people that don’t need them,” said Ndaba.

Residents also accused councillors of using food parcels for political point-scoring.

The protestors said the food was originally donated by a local mining company but the  ANC’s ward 41 councillor, Zenzele Xhinela, says he used his own money to buy the food. 

He denies the hijacking charge. “I know the president has said that councillors should not be part of food distribution. That is why I buy food with my money and give to the people that I identify to be suffering,” he said.

The conflict has been brewing for weeks in wards and informal settlements in Greater Boitekong, near Marikana in Northwest.

Residents carried boards which said “Wards 43, 41, and 47 we want food and jobs. Fire councillors.”

Yandiswa Ninzi said Xhinela was misusing his political power to give the food, meant for the poor, to his friends.

Ninzi said it was hard to see how much people are suffering in her area. Hundreds are out of work and struggling to put food on the table.

“We cannot have a leader who is selfish and serves people that he likes. He should be fired,” said Yandiswa.

Fikiswa Ngambu said she was still waiting for a parcel as she doesn’t work. “My family is suffering,” she said.

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