| Future of KZN’s school nutrition programme in the hands of lawyers

Basic education department director-general Mathanzima Mweli. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo

Basic education department director-general Mathanzima Mweli. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo

  • The future of KZN’s National School Nutrition Plan is in the hands of lawyers.
  • Even the contracts for SMMEs, which are presently delivering food to schools, will be subject to legal processes.
  • Angie Motshekga said 90% of schools received meals on Tuesday.

The future of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in KwaZulu-Natal is in the hands of lawyers.

The director-general of the basic education department, Mathanzima Mweli, on Tuesday told the media that contracts relating to the programme would be scrutinised by attorneys in the coming months.

“These contractual arrangements are being dealt with by competent persons, including senior counsel,” Mweli said.

When journalists asked about a statement issued last week by Pacina Retail, the service provider fingered in botching the nutrition programme which left needy pupils starving, Mweli said it was subject to lawyers.

Last week, the KZN education department announced Pacina Retail had pulled out of the contract.

Days later, the company said it had not – and that the contract with the education department still stood.

At the same press briefing, Education MEC Mbali Frazer said SMMEs would continue the work of providing meals in schools for at least six to 12 months.

However, Mweli added that contractual agreements and the possibility of keeping SMMEs, which were presently doing the work of Pacina Retail, would also be scrutinised by lawyers.

“That is also subject to legal opinion,” he said.

The contract for the NSNP is worth over R2 billion and provides for more than two million pupils across 5 400 schools in the province.

KZN is the biggest recipient of the NSNP, with 83% of pupils relying on the meal. For many of these pupils, it is the only meal of the day.

Mweli said there was communication between Pacina Retail and the head of the KZN education department, Nkosinathi Ngcobo.

“What came out is that there were letters between the HOD and Pacina, and the letters actually refer to what the MEC is indicating [that Pacina pulled out of the contract].

“There was an email from Pacina communicated to the HOD, saying they were opting out of the contract. What that legally means is subject to lawyers to interpret.”

KwaZulu-Natal has been struggling with its NSNP since 12 April when schools reopened for the second term.

Reports began flooding in that a number of schools had not received meals, and those that did, complained of sub-standard food quality.

On Tuesday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that, from reports they received, at least 90% of schools got their meals. 

News24 South Africa