Five months after the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education was left red-faced when a centralised system to supply food to schools spectacularly collapsed, a new similar programme is being undertaken despite the glaring risks.
The department, politically headed by MEC Mbali Frazer, is piloting a project to add chicken livers to the menu of the R2.09 billion nutrition programme, which feeds 2.4 million learners in 5,436 schools across the province.
But the pilot project, which would kick in at Umgungundlovu district when schools re-open in the coming days, has already been met with scepticism and fears that it will collapse like the Pacina project.
The Pacina project was a centralised system where service providers had to collect food packs from a main supplier and distribute them to schools.
The programme was a total disaster, and schools went for weeks without food until the department reverted back to the old system where the service providers were allowed to source stock from any supplier and supply schools.
The department blamed Pacina for the embarrassing disaster, while Pacina blamed the department and other “outside forces” for its failures.
Regarding the Umgungundlovu pilot project, the department has picked up selected service providers.
However, the service providers told IOL that the pilot is likely to fail since “it is taking the Pacina route.”
“This is another Pacina scandal in the making,” one service provider told IOL and shared the addendum the department has added to their contracts as part of the pilot project.
The addendum states that the service providers would source the chicken livers to feed learners from selected outlets, and failure to do so would be a breach of contract.
“The department shall issue the list of processors of chicken livers approved by the Department of Basic Education where chicken livers can only be procured from.
“Service providers are directed to procure chicken livers only from the approved processors, and failure to comply will constitute a breach which will result in termination of (sic) not corrected in line with the provisions of the main contract and the NSNP policy,” read part of the addendum.
According to the department, as per information on the addendum, in total, the required chicken livers for all the schools in 455 (one primary school, 29 combined schools, 117 secondary schools, and eight special schools) uMgungundlovu is 8,977kg per day.
The spokesperson for the department, Muzi Mahlambi, did not respond when IOL asked him about the rationale behind centralising procurement when it has failed before.