KZN Education Department wins court challenge over lucrative feeding programme
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has bested a court challenge from a consortium of companies and businesspeople who had attempted to halt the appointment of new service providers to the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).
The consortium last week sought an interdict to stop the MEC‚ Mthandeni Dlungwana‚ from awarding new contracts for the lucrative R1.5-billion programme which feeds more than two million children at over 5‚000 schools in the province.
They claimed that there was widespread corruption in the awarding of the tenders and that some companies didn't meet the requisite criteria.
Zimele Mthenjana‚ a representative of the group‚ said: "A company search has revealed that there are significant issues in respect of many of them‚ in that some are not existing‚ some are in the process of deregistration or have not paid annual returns and so on. There has been absolutely no transparency with regard to the process‚ in that the process was corrupt in that those who were allocated were more close to the (MEC)."
But on Wednesday Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Mokgere Masipa discharged the earlier interdict‚ allowing the MEC to appoint new service providers who had bid for contracts as part of the feeding programme.
The matter was struck from the roll.
The consortium alleged that the tender process had been fraught with corruption and that some companies did not meet the requisite criteria.
In an affidavit before court‚ the NSNP’s Nonkululeko Ndlela said that they had not been aware of the initial interdict and only found out about the court order several days after it was granted.
She said the group of businesspeople were concerned only with their bottom line.
“This is not about ensuring that children are fed‚ it is about the applicants maintaining their income stream while the internal appeal process resolves itself.” She said that while the earlier interdict allowed the erstwhile contract holders to keep feeding children in 19 districts‚ over 1‚000 districts would not have a feeding programme provider.