The DA in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has called for immediate answers from Education MEC Mbali Frazer, following reports that thousands of learners in the province went hungry on Wednesday.
This was after the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) failed to conduct deliveries to 5 400 schools in KZN, forcing the rationing of food.
The DA said the incident was not only shocking and disgraceful but also smacks of incompetence.
“The buck stops with the MEC who needs to fix this mess instead of allowing the usual feeble excuses from her spokespersons or spin doctors. The alternative is that more days of starvation will follow,” it said.
“Towards the end of the last academic term, KZN’s Department of Education (DoE) made an announcement regarding a change in the system in terms of the procurement of food for learners. This included the possible addition of breakfast as a permanent feature going forward and a central supplier,” it added.
The DA said the department hailed the move as cost-saving and progressive but “yet, here we are, on day one of the new term in complete shambles and rationing food as if it were a famine”.
Meanwhile, ActionSA said it was a concern that the department saw fit to divert from a system that has been working without hiccups for a number of years, and introduce one that has unfortunately collapsed before it could take off.
It said it was devastating to learn that about 5 400 schools in the province were without food due to tender irregularities, and forcing learners to starve on their first day back to school upon returning from Easter Holidays.
“It is a cause for concern that a tender of such nature was awarded to a single individual in the province and with tenders are often used as 'get rich quick' schemes and are often awarded to certain individuals through corruption and irregularities,” ActionSA said.
The party persuaded Frazer to be transparent about the multimillion-rand tender which was awarded to the individual in question.
ActionSA threatened to take further steps and write to the public protector and request a full investigation into the matter if the matter is not resolved by month's end.
“We will immediately take action steps and write to the public protector and request a full investigation into the matter and reveal what led the Department of Education to come to the decision to strip other suppliers of their duties and award them to a single individual, and uncover how many people apply for the tender, what were its specifications and did the individuals met to required specifications,” it said.