Pacina claims its R2.1 billion KwaZulu-Natal school nutrition programme is still binding

Published Apr 29, 2023


Durban - Pacina Retail, the company that won the tender as the main supplier for the R2.1 billion KwaZulu-Natal schools nutrition tender says it has not pulled out as publicly claimed.

The company says the tender is still binding and in force.

In a statement on Saturday, the company added that it was able to distribute food to the main centres, where it was supposed to be collected by sub-contractors and transported to schools.

The statement comes as on Wednesday this week, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education issued a circular where it said it was reverting to the old format following the “withdrawal” of Pacina’s tender.

It then advised the subcontractors that they would now be required to procure and move the foodstuff to schools and that will start on Tuesday when schools resume their learning, following a short break made necessary by the long weekend.

But Pacina Retail has now thrown a spanner in the works, saying the tender still belongs to it and it was still carrying on with its duties.

“Pacina are aware of the current discontent regarding the status of the National School Nutrition Programme in KwaZulu-Natal. Pacina would like to set the record straight regarding recent unfounded rumours and misleading allegations of the collapse of the programme.

“We understand the concerns of the public and want to clarify that the infancy glitches experienced due to logistical challenges during the first two days of the programme were quickly resolved and did not ‘collapse’ the programme.

“Since April 14, 2023, Pacina has continued to deliver food to the agreed collection points of all 12 districts of the province, where the 1 765 SMME'S (who are themselves independently contracted to The Department of Basic Education, KwaZulu-Natal), were then to collect and deliver to 5 446 schools in the province.

“It is not true that we failed to deliver, in fact, over 2 400 tonnes of non-perishable/dry foods and over 3 000 tonnes of perishable foods were delivered to those collection points.

“As the contract remains in place, we are committed to fulfilling our obligation to deliver food to all the collection points and want to emphasise at this point, that we did not terminate the contract between the parties.

“To date, the contract remains binding and in force,” Pacina said in a statement issued by its law firm Norton Rose Fullbright.

Furthermore, Pacina Retail said it has not received any payment for the work it has done so far.

“Pacina wants to put on record the issue of payments made to it and emphasise that we have not received a single payment in any amount from the Department, in fact we have had to self-fund the programme from inception to date.

“In conclusion, we have contributed significantly to the upliftment of communities across the province thus far and we would like to re-iterate our commitment to delivering quality food to all the collection points across the province.

“We will continue to work together with the Department and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the National School Nutrition Programme in KwaZulu Natal,” it said.

It also denied that it supplied rotten and substandard food for schools across the province, saying it met all its obligations that are part of the tender.

“We have, during this time noted the false reports of the delivery of sub-standard food by Pacina and would like to place on record that, at no point did we deliver rotten food/produce to the collection points.

“Pacina has stringent quality control measures in place.

“The allegations, simply put, are completely unfounded, untrue and disingenuous.”

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