Controversial feeding-scheme tap turned off

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Copy of st mathale INLSA Cassel Mathale is accused of having given tenders to politically linked business people. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Polokwane - The Limpopo Education Department has terminated the controversial R2 billion school nutrition programme – criticised in the past as “a get-rich-quick scheme” for politically connected tenderpreneurs.

The feeding scheme tender came under scrutiny in 2009 when disgruntled business people marched against former premier Cassel Mathale, accusing his government of favouring politicians close to him and former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

Until this year, tenderpreneurs pocketed millions of rand in profit for simply supplying schools with raw food parcels.

But on Thursday, Education MEC Dikeledi Magadzi announced at a TNA Business Breakfast meeting that hosted Premier Stan Mathabatha in Polokwane the tendering system had been done away with.

“Schools will be given money,” said Magadzi.

She suggested that in the past, contractors were compromising pupils by delivering food of questionable nutritional value.

“Sometimes you had a cabbage that had been delivered (in the past) three weeks,” said Magadzi.

Previously, more than 300 business people had been contracted to supply food parcels at poor schools in the province.

Complaints abounded that department officials and politicians abused the tendering systems to benefit their relatives and allies.

Yesterday, department spokesman Pitsi Maloba said 12 main suppliers had been identified from which schools could get food parcels on credit for the next two months.

He said after two months schools, would begin to receive money, from which they should be able to settle their credit with the main suppliers.

“Schools are encouraged to make use of these suppliers as the department is assured that they have the necessary capacity to ensure that no disruption in feeding occurs while the schools are putting their systems in place and (are receiving) training on financial management,” said Maloba.

He said that once they began receiving money, schools would be allowed to buy food parcels anywhere they believed they got value for money.

“We don’t have a contract with the 12 suppliers. Schools can buy anywhere,” said Maloba.

Siviko Mabunda, secretary of the Forum of Limpopo Entrepreneurs, said they would first consult with their lawyers today and then set up a meeting with the department.

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