School feeding scheme tender process ‘flawed’ says tribunal
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