Photo: Bonile Bam

DURBAN - The IFP said on Friday it noted that R50 million had been allocated to supply sanitary towels to schools in KwaZulu-Natal, and questioned why an investigation into a previous oversupply of the products had not been made available. 

IFP MPL, Thembeni KaMadlopha-Mthethwa, said while the party welcomed the supply of sanitary towels to schools, "we are of the opinion that first and foremost the KZN MEC of education must release the investigation report into the oversupply of sanitary pads... before the department allocates another funding for this project".

"We urge KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu to provide a detailed plan on how, this time, these sanitary pads will be distributed in schools. Which schools are in need of these sanitary pads? Which company has been awarded a tender to deliver sanitary pads in schools? What plans are in place to prevent the alleged corruption in the supply of sanitary pads in schools? All these questions must be answered by the MEC," said KaMadlopha-Mthethwa.

She added that the entire tender and supply chain process for the sanitary pad roll-out programme by the provincial department needed to be investigated. 

The department came under scrutiny last year when it was accused of inflating the multi-million rand tender in the initiative's inaugural year. Some of the feminine hygiene products landed up at schools where children were too young to use them, while other schools had heaps of them stored in libraries and classrooms. R20 million had been budgeted for the project, but the department ended up spending about R80 million. 

"[This financial year] the department has a budget of around R20m for the project and has received another R27m grant from the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities to spend on the production and supply of sanitary towels," said KaMadlopha-Mthethwa.

The IFP cautioned principals, teachers and departmental officials involved in the procurement and distribution of the products to ensure that they reached the most deserving students. 

"These sanitary towels should not be sold or used as a bargaining ploy to get students to pay school fees in return for this government initiative. We also want to caution male teachers who might seek to use this free distribution to solicit sexual favours from young girls.

"The education MEC must tell the public when the report into the oversupply of sanitary pads will be released. He must provide a clear timeframe. We are convinced that corruption is involved in the supply of sanitary pads in schools."

African News Agency