File picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Cape Town - The ACDP in the Western Cape has urged MEC of Health Nomafrench Mbombo to review the halaal certification requirements for all public tenders in state hospitals.

The party has taken exception to the halaal requirements to supply food in state hospitals, saying it excludes other religions and businesses who do not follow Islam.

Voicing his concerns, ACDP provincial leader Ferlon Christians said the recent tender requirements set out by the Western Cape Health Department for Groote Schuur Hospital discriminates against other religious businesses.

Christians said while businesses were invited to bid for the opportunity to supply food including fresh bread and poultry products for a one-year period to Groote Schuur, the requirements for the tender, which includes halaal certificates for the products offered and for the bidder's premises, make it impossible for all businesses to be on an equal footing when they competed for a public tender.

He said the requirements showed a lack of religious tolerance toward businesses that did not usually sell halaal certified products and whose premises were not certified halaal.

“We believe that businesses should openly have the right to tender irrespective of whether their products are halaal or not,” Christians said.

He added that the Groote Schuur tender meeting, which was scheduled to take place last month, was cancelled due to numerous businesses protesting against the requirements.

“Businesses believed that the tender requirements were discriminatory in nature against other religions. All businesses should be treated equally in the tender process, due to the fact that Groote Schuur Hospital is a medical facility used by people of all religions,” Christians added.

In defence of the halaal certification requirement, the provincial health department said it must cater for all its patients and their requirements fairly.

Departmental spokeswoman Marika Champion said since a large number of patients were Muslim, food and catering services had to be halaal.

“Groote Schuur does not have a separate kitchen where halaal meals may be prepared, thus the supplier needs to be halaal certified. Other faiths are also accommodated. For instance, kosher meals are procured separately.”

Champion said the requirement had been laid down in the Departmental Western Cape Food Policy.

“It has been in practice at Groote Schuur Hospital since 2005 and applies to all other hospitals in the Western Cape.

“This practice has been implemented with the purpose of serving patients fairly and not with any intention to discriminate against any vendor,” Champion said.

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Cape Argus