Durban - The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga has told KZN MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer, that due to the challenges encountered by the school's nutrition scheme, she is immediately intervening.
In a direct letter to Frazer sent on Friday, Motshekga also said she wants to be furnished with all documents related to the tender and all information that the procurement was above board.
BREAKING: Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has told KZN MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer, that due to the challenges encountered by the school's nutrition scheme, she is immediately intervening. She wants all the tender's documents to see if it was above board. @IOL pic.twitter.com/v6OsGFFBm9— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) April 22, 2023
At the time the letter was sent, the feeding scheme was unravelling, with thousands of schools without food and starving learners.
This was while those who had received their foodstuff claimed some of it is rotten or not enough for all learners.
In the letter, Motshekga reminded Frazer she has the mandate over the scheme since it is grant-funded, hence she was intervening.
“I wish to remind you that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has a mandate to manage and implement the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), in cooperation with the Provincial Education Departments.
“The NSNP Conditional Grant Framework, as gazetted in the Division of Revenue Act of 2022, stipulates stringent feeding requirements to ensure that the beneficiaries, i.e., our learners, are provided with nutritious meals on all school days.
“The provision of daily meals to targeted learners, especially the most vulnerable learners, aims to enhance their learning capacity for optimal participation in school curricular.
“This is critical towards meeting the 'basic right to food and nutrition' as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” Motshekga wrote in the letter.
Motshekga also wants to know if the procurement was above board and she wants to have all the tender documents.
"In light of the widespread challenges in the school nutrition programme, and the reported non-feeding of learners in schools in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), occasioned by the new tender contract, the DBE is left with no choice, but to intervene with immediate effect. This, the DBE will do in collaboration with your Provincial Education Department.
“The intervention will be multi-pronged: (a) firstly, we must investigate the circumstances that led to, and the justification to discontinue the decentralised procurement method involving a multiplicity of NSNP service providers, in preference of the central procurement method to be managed by the consortium recently appointed;
“(b) secondly, what time-lines were contemplated to ensure that the procurement processes are compliant with legal prescripts;
“(c) thirdly, the DBE must be provided with copies of all documentation developed - including the tender documents, with requisite annexures as advertised; reports from the tender specification committee, tender evaluation committee, the tender adjudication committee; and (d) fourthly, the final verdict reached by the accounting officer to appoint the consortium as the sole provider of the NSNP foodstuff for all deserving schools in KZN; and (e) all crucial information to corroborate that the procurement process was above board.”
Furthermore, she said she will urgently send officials to KwaZulu-Natal to help resolve the crisis.
“I wish to further advise you that I will dispatch a team of senior officials from the DBE, and others identified as per critical need, from identified sister Provincial Education Department to assist and support the DBE team.
“This team will engage to the extent necessary with all involved in the NSNP, in order to get to the bottom of the NSNP-related malaise recently experienced by schools and learners in KZN; and investigate the direct and indirect impact of the province's failure to provide nutritious meals to KZN learners, as well as to teaching and learning in KZN schools.
“Therefore, the work of the DBE team will do, in collaboration with your officials, will not only be confined to monitoring and evaluation oversight, but the implementation of compliant strategic interventions, to ensure that learners are fed on time, with adequate portions of the nutritious food, which meets all NSNP quality standards, and availed to all deserving learners on all prescribed days.
“It is imperative that the school meals programme reaches full functionality and efficiency as a matter of urgency, to circumvent any further disruptions on feeding, teaching and learning in KZN schools.
“MEC, it will be appreciated if you can agree with me on the urgency of addressing the NSNP challenges in KZN, with the sole objective of restoring and normalising the delivery of the NSNP without any further delay,” she pleaded with Frazer.
Muzi Mahlambi, Frazer’s departmental spokesperson, said he was not aware of the letter.
"I was not aware of this letter as it's from the minister straight to the MEC," he said after a copy of the letter was shared with him.