Feeding tender debacle

2013-05-30 00:00

THE Department of Education has been accused in high court papers of acting unconstitutionally and illegally in the way it awarded tenders for its R1 billion 2013 school feeding scheme.

The scheme, which has been dogged by controversy over allegations of fraud and corruption since last year, is allegedly “failing dismally in almost all” the affected schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

The department was taken to court over the issue by NGB Meal Supply and Catering CC, whose registered office is in Mahlabathini.

Nkosinomusa Buthelezi, who holds a 51% member’s interest in the CC, said in an affidavit the company wanted the court to set aside the tenders that were awarded by the department to the various service providers for this year’s National School Nutrition Programme, and to start the tender process afresh.

The CC is asking that “only legitimate” entities that comply with the tender requirements be considered.

Buthelezi alleges in her affidavit that 11 CCs listed in the court papers and awarded tenders by the department, don’t validly exist and are not registered.

She said one of the requirements for tenderers was to provide a valid tax clearance certificate and certified copies of the company or entity’s registration.

Buthelezi said it was “inconceivable” that the entities in question had been awarded tenders by the department as they were not valid entities or companies.

She invited the department to comment on the validity of the award. The department has so far not filed any replying papers.

The case was yesterday postponed until tomorrow to enable the department to provide documentation relating to the tenders it awarded.

Buthelezi denied the case had anything to do with “sour grapes” because NGB was not given a tender, but said it was necessary for the court to intervene to ensure that pupils at schools were provided with the nutritional supplies they require.

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