Dept wins court battle over food tenders

2012-12-18 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has won a court battle against 36 companies that wanted to stop it from capping its school feeding scheme tenders.

The department recently announced its intention to reduce the amounts of the tenders and spread the benefits to more suppliers by involving community-based co-operatives.

The companies challenged the proposed changes in court. But the high court in Pietermaritzburg turned down their application for an interim order on Friday.

One of the changes the companies were opposing was the department’s appointment of co-operatives and limiting the number of pupils fed by one service provider to 3 000.

The department’s spokesperson, Muzi Mahlambi, said the changes to be implemented included limiting service providers to 3 000 pupils per day, which will reduce the number of schools served by one entity.

He said the department would use co-operatives to ensure communities benefited from the scheme.

The changes were aimed at preventing corruption and improving efficiency and service delivery to the schools, he added.

He said there were individual service providers who fed over 200 schools.

“But we want to spread the economy so that more other people can participate in the opportunities that the nutrition programme has brought.”

The department said about 2,2 million pupils were being served by the school nutrition programme, which cost the province R1,2 billion a year.

“The department is going to forge ahead with awarding tenders to the deserving service providers who are going to comply with the terms and conditions of the contract,” Mahlambi said.

Lucky Mnikathi, of Masondle Ngeqiniso Food Suppliers’ Association, which took the department to court, said the association was still studying the judgment and could not yet comment.

The association represents about 300 suppliers, mostly small, medium and micro enterprises.

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