DA in Gauteng calls for a probe into possible overpricing of food parcels

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Food parcels handed out in Mooreesburg in the Western Cape.
Food parcels handed out in Mooreesburg in the Western Cape.
Shavan Rahim
  • The DA in Gauteng is concerned about different prices charged for food parcels in different regions of the province.
  • The social development MEC says tenders were awarded to service providers in different regions.
  • The department says Gauteng Audit Services has already started auditing all Covid-19 related procurement.  

The DA in Gauteng wants the province's Social Development MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to investigate whether service providers overcharged the department for food parcels.

In a statement on Thursday, the party said Mokgethi must provide clarity on why the prices for food parcels differed across municipalities, when one tender was advertised for the entire province. 

It said when Mokgethi responded to written questions tabled in the Gauteng provincial legislature, she replied that one tender was advertised and bidders were requested to choose one region they wished to tender for.

"The tender specified standard contents of the required food parcel, which were the same in all the regions: 10kg maize meal, 5kg rice, 2.5kg sugar, 2 litre cooking oil, 1kg salt, 2 by 4 10g canned fish, 2 by 4 10g canned beans, 2kg soya mince, 800g peanut butter, 100 per pack teabags, 500g detergent multi-purpose soap, 750g all-purpose liquid soap, 750ml dish washing liquid and 1kg of each of the following vegetables: Carrots, onions, potatoes, beetroot, spinach/cabbage.

"However, it is concerning that there were different prices per region, with the same food parcel in Tshwane costing R605; Ekurhuleni R558.67; Sedibeng R537; Johannesburg R498.36 and West Rand R458.94," DA MPL Refiloe Nt'sekhe said in a statement.

READ | Furious MPs grill Lindiwe Zulu over food parcels, social grants

Nt'sekhe said the reasons provided by the MEC on the different prices per region were that bidders were in competition within a region, not provincially.

Not convinced

The DA, however, is not convinced as it believes the contents of the food parcels were the same for all service providers.

"Even though the service providers might have used different brands, the difference between the highest and the lowest price per region is R146.06 per food parcel. This is ridiculous as it clearly indicates that there were some service providers that overcharged the department," said Nt'sekhe.

The party said it was now calling for an investigation into whether service providers had overcharged.

It would also be tabling further questions to the legislature to get clarity on who the service providers were, as well as information regarding the financial cost of the tenders.

READ | Western Cape wants booze ban lifted urgently

"These questions will also give insight into how much money could have been saved if all regions used the same specification with the same lowest prices, while not compromising on food nutritional value."

Responding to News24's query on the matter during the provincial command council update on Friday, Mokgethi said the evaluation of tenders were done in different regions to avoid awarding it to one company, which may not have been able to meet the demand. 

She added that the department had saved R25 million in the process. 

Asked whether the department was not concerned about inflated prices, Mokgethi said Gauteng's Audit Services had already started auditing all Covid-19 related procurement in the province.

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