FRANCISTOWN: The Francistown City Council (FCC), through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development might have lied or misled the nation by saying that some of the food items that were stored at Aerodrome Primary School hall were not rotting or had not reached their expiry date.
Three weeks ago, Mmegi’s sister publication The Monitor reported that the food items that were supposed to be distributed to members of the public during the lockdown for the second time were said to be rotting at Aerodrome Primary School hall.
The food items were meant to cushion Batswana against the negative impacts of COVID-, most particularly during national lockdown period of April, May and June.
The government later somersaulted on its initial promise of providing the COVID-19 relief packages to the public for three months.
The council said then that the food items would alternatively be given to destitute families but that has not materialised. Some of the food items at Aerodrome were purchased directly by government while others were donations from Good Samaritans and private companies. The FCC said that the food items would be given to the needy people in the city.
After The Monitor reports (that some food items were rotting) the council through the parent ministry released a strongly-worded statement vehemently denying that there were mountains of COVID-19 food items rotting or having reached their expiry date inside the Aerodrome Primary School hall.
“No perishable goods are in stock and of course all items procured by the council are within their shelf life,” a statement from the Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Masego Ramakgati said then.
Strangely, on Wednesday council officials started pulling off some of the food items from Aerodrome to be destroyed at the landfill.
The development accordingly confirmed the position of our sources that a sizeable number of food items at Aerodrome were rotting or had reached their best before date.
In particular, Mmegi has learnt that 252 (12.5 kg) bags of rotten maize meal were destroyed
The bags were transported to the FCC Dumela Industrial Area landfill just towards lunchtime in a mini-truck bearing the number plate B 309 AKI.
Mmegi had tracked the truck from Aerodrome to the landfill following a tip-off.
Mmegi sources have also insinuated that more food items have almost reached their best before date and will inevitably be destroyed soon.
The town clerk at FCC Lopang Pule said that he was in a meeting with the minister when Mmegi sought to get clarity as to why the 252 bags of maize meal were dumped at the landfill.
On the other hand, the spokesperson at the local government ministry Ramakgathi would also not directly respond to an inquiry by Mmegi regarding the bags of maize meal that were dumped at the landfill.
He told Mmegi that the ministry had organised a press conference to address circumstances surrounding the destruction of the maize meal.
“We are still working on the modalities of the press conference.
All the details you want will be dealt with through the press conference,” said Francistown West Member of Parliament (MP) Ignatius Moswaane will somehow feel vindicated by the latest developments.
He was amongst those who have often criticised the government’s decision not to give the food items to intended recipients (those negatively affected by COVID-19).
He even approached court in a bid to force the government to give out food packages to those affected by relief. He would later withdraw his application.
Moswaane visited the landfill yesterday and witnessed council officials destroying the rotten food items.
In his Facebook page he reiterated scorn that the government had failed Batswana whose livelihoods have been disrupted by COVID-19 by not distributing the food items.