KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube is seeking legal opinion on the steps that should be taken against the company responsible for the non-delivery of food items to schools in the province as part of the National School Nutrition Programme.
When schools opened in April this year, for the second term, it was discovered that the service provider failed to honour the terms of the contract with the Department of Education.
This has since caused the non-delivery of food items to all schools on April 12, shortages of deliveries in recent weeks, the supply of non-compliant food items and long distances travelled by service providers to collection points. A lack of manpower to offload food from trucks and onto the individual service providers’ transport, and the non-supply of gas to schools was also a challenge. It has also led to the Premier instituting a Ministerial Committee to deal with the challenges in the National School Nutrition Programme.
“The service provider subsequently addressed correspondence to the Department of Education on 26 April 2023, notifying the Department of its withdrawal from the contract provided they are paid for services rendered so far, parallel to the investigation processes that are underway. In the week starting from 02 May 2023, after the extended weekend, all MECs, HODs, senior management in the Department of Education and other government departments, visited schools across the province to ensure that food items were delivered and that children were being fed nutritious meals as expected. All challenges facing the school nutrition programme in the province have been addressed and children are indeed being fed in schools,” said Dube-Ncube.
Dube-Ncube has led oversight visits to assess the implementation of the feeding programme in schools across all districts and has also expressed concerns about misleading reports regarding the non-delivery of food in some schools, where investigations have revealed that those schools had in fact received food deliveries.
“Political party leaders across party lines have demonstrated that they are firmly committed to representing the interests and needs of all our people, by way of their contributions, to ensure that all children receive a nutritious meal every day. It is, however, disappointing that some leaders opted to politicise the issue. This was to undermine the resolve demonstrated by the provincial government to respond to the matter decisively and swiftly. We must guard against political grandstanding, and rather work together for the greater good of our society,” she said.
All community structures have been requested to work with government and report any challenges to ensure that there are no further disruptions to the programme. Dube-Ncube will in a few days appear before the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature to answer questions about matters of provincial importance.