Tender greed over kids’ food

2017-12-07 13:45
Feeding scheme deals 'behind KZN killings'.

Feeding scheme deals 'behind KZN killings'. (File)

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Greedy politicians are said to have turned the R1,5 billion school feeding scheme in KwaZulu-Natal into a “cash cow”.

And there have been suggestions that recent killings of ANC Youth League members in the province may be related to the scramble for the lucrative school feeding scheme contracts.

The scheme benefits over two million pupils from impoverished families in KwaZulu-Natal.

Three ANCYL leaders — Sthembiso Mhlongo, Lungisani Mnguni and Kwazi Mkhize — have been gunned down under mysterious circumstances in the party’s Moses Mabhida region in recent months.

Several ANC insiders in the region are convinced the murders were as a result of fallout over the allocation of feeding scheme tenders.

“It is a well-known fact that the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in the province is controlled by ANCYL people.

“They are the ones that decide who gets the tender and under what conditions,” said a well-placed ANC source in the region.

“It is completely untrue that the killings that have been taking place in recent months are related to the ANC conference; they have everything to do with the NSNP tenders,” the source added.

The Education Department, which administers the scheme, recently appointed new contractors amid a court challenge by the previous suppliers.

“The department did not follow any processes. Instead those who were in the tender committee were simply receiving instructions from senior department officials on who [they should] allocate tenders to,” a source within the department supply chain management unit said.

While a sizeable number of tenders are said to have been given to ANCYL members, the bulk were allegedly given to business people with links to the league. These contracts were allegedly done in terms of an arrangement where the person who gets the tender pays a “donation” to the ANCYL.

On Monday, a Pietermaritzburg businessman who was allocated a tender through such an arrangement said he was made to pay R10 000 a month to an Msunduzi councillor with links to ANCYL leaders in the province.

“Then suddenly he told me the R10 000 was too little and that I now have to pay R18 000 a month.”

The businessman, who said he wanted the councillor to be exposed through the media, later requested that the name of the councillor not be revealed.

“I’m scared they might kill me if they find out it was me who gave you the information,” he said.

While ANC Moses Mabhida regional secretary Thembinkosi Zondi admitted that the killing of Mnguni, gunned down last month near Cato Ridge, could be linked to the feeding scheme contracts, he denied the ANCYL was controlling the tenders.

“These allegations are being made by people who want to defocus police investigations.

“The murders of comrades Sthembiso [and] Kwazi have nothing to do with the feeding scheme.

“At no stage did the ANCYL either in the region or the province ever have anything to do with tenders,” he said.

The provincial Treasury’s tribunal dealing with tender disputes has since ruled the most recent awarding of the NSNP tenders as irregular.

The tribunal left it to Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane to put measures in place to ensure pupils continue to be fed while the tender processes start afresh.

Dlungwane resolved to allow the current contracts to run until such a time when new service providers were appointed.

“I can confirm that the tribunal’s directive is being complied with. Having said that, I would also like to put it on record that the tender process was an open one and never designed to benefit any grouping,” said Dlungwane’s spokesperson, Kwazi Mthethwa.

The Democratic Alliance has lodged a complaint with the public protector.

“All the MEC should have done was to remove those people who were appointed illegally and irregularly. However, he chose to reward corruption by allowing them to continue providing services.

“It is on this basis that as the DA we resolved to take the matter to the public protector,” said DA provincial education spokesperson Reshigen Viranna.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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