School feeding scheme providers ‘unpaid’

Published Jul 4, 2024


The KwaZulu-Natal National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) service providers’ association has threatened to stop the service over what they claim is a three-month outstanding payment from the KZN Department of Basic Education.

According to the NSNP KZN spokesperson Thabang Mncwabe, the service providers may stop their service which could lead to thousands of pupils not being fed when schools reopen on Tuesday.

Mncwabe said some service providers have not been paid since April with the department only paying 40% of the service providers.

“There is a possibility that some schools will not receive food because service providers are not being paid.

“That is not what we wish for, but if the department does not pay us how we are supposed to work? I am really hoping the department resolves this as soon as possible.

“We have tried to engage with the department but it looks like we are being ignored. We even requested a meeting with the head of department last month,” said Mncwabe.

Mncwabe stressed the importance for the department to come to the table to discuss other pending issues such as food and fuel prices.

KZN Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said that the department was looking into the concerns.

ActionSA’s provincial leader, Zwakele Mncwango, has formally written to the MEC for Education, Sipho Hlomuka, raising concerns over the department’s failure to pay service providers contracted to the NSNP.

Mncwango said he has urged the MEC to reassure the province that it will not witness a repeat of the catastrophic NSNP collapse that occurred in April last year.

He said that they have asked Hlomuka to outline the measures the department is implementing to address these critical issues, saying it is essential for them to act swiftly and effectively to prevent further disruptions to the nutrition programme.

“This situation is particularly concerning as schools are set to recommence next week, and there is growing uncertainty about whether learners will have access to meals due to these unresolved challenges.

“We have requested the MEC to provide transparency regarding any financial challenges the department may be facing. If such issues exist, it is imperative to understand their implications for learners and the provision of meals in schools. ActionSA remains committed to advocating for the well-being and education of our children. We urge the MEC for Education to take immediate action to resolve these issues and ensure that no child goes hungry when schools reopen,” Mncwango said.

DA KZN spokesperson on education Dr Imran Keeka said Hlomuka needed to act with urgency to avoid what may be another disaster.

“The NSNP has been an absolute mess. Everything from the collapse of the programme to incomplete recovery from the saga.

“It is a grant-funded programme and there should be no shortage of funds to pay suppliers who have staff to pay and suppliers who probably also have their foot on their necks. This debacle now increases the risk of no food when schools reopen after the holidays,” he said.

The Mercury