School feed­ing scheme ten­der process ‘flawed’ says tri­bunal

Eyethu Baywatch - - NEWS • IZINDABA - Gugu Myeni

THE Demo­cratic Al­liance in KZN has called on fi­nance MEC Belinda Scott to en­sure that a proper school feed­ing scheme ten­der process is re-in­sti­tuted after the cur­rent process was found to be flawed by the Bid Ap­peals Tri­bunal.

This fol­lows the tri­bunal’s rec­om­men­da­tion that the bid­ding process for the na­tional school nu­tri­tion pro­gramme (NSNP) be de­clared null and void.

‘The ad­ju­di­ca­tion process was flawed and it is rec­om­mended that the Hon MEC for Fi­nance set aside the awards in ev­ery in­stance and di­rect that the bid­ding process com­mence afresh,’ the tri­bunal said in a judg­ment.

The nu­tri­tion pro­gramme process in the prov­ince has been marred by al­le­ga­tions of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and cor­rup­tion, which have led to nu­mer­ous ap­peals be­ing laid.

‘The NSNP ten­der and its fi­nal­i­sa­tion in July 2017 cre­ated a mas­sive cri­sis in schools across the prov­ince, with chil­dren go­ing with­out food for weeks. For some, this is the only meal of the day.

‘In light of the Tri­bunal’s de­ci­sion, the DA is vin­di­cated in hav­ing re­ferred this mat­ter to the Public Pro­tec­tor to thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate the cor­rup­tion claims. This in­ves­ti­ga­tion must still take place so that fair­ness and jus­tice can pre­vail,’ DA MPL Dr Rishi­gen Vi­ranna said.

The South African Demo­cratic Teacher’s Union in KZN said many learn­ers were de­prived of ac­cess to meals be­cause some of the sup­pli­ers ‘per­sis­tently re­neged on con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions, but con­tin­ued to be paid by the de­part­ment’.

‘Man­age­ment of this lu­cra­tive busi­ness to­talling R1,4-bil­lion a year for profit-ori­en­tated providers must be transparent and mon­i­tored for the ben­e­fit of the poor kids. We call on all in­ter­ested par­ties to avoid gam­bling with the well-be­ing of our chil­dren,’ Pro­vin­cial Sec­re­tary No­marashiya Caluza said.

In Au­gust a court or­der seek­ing to pre­vent the pro­vi­sion of nu­tri­tion to schools was set aside by the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court.

This after un­suc­cess­ful bid­ders launched an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion to try and re­strain the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion from ap­point­ing new ser­vice providers.

The de­part­ment then filed ur­gent op­pos­ing pa­pers seek­ing to set aside the court or­der.

The de­part­ment has main­tained that it is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing food for the learn­ers who come from des­ti­tute fam­i­lies and de­pend on the pro­gramme. It also de­nied al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion.

‘It is through this very pro­gramme that we have been able to re­duce school dropouts, curb ab­sen­teeism and en­sured that no learner goes to class on an empty stom­ach,’ the de­part­ment said.

The Bid Ap­peals Tri­bunal has rec­om­mended that the bid­ding process for the na­tional schools nu­tri­tion pro­gramme be de­clared null and void

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