Heads must roll after KZN school meal scandal

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
03 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

While millions of learners in KwaZulu-Natal that are dependent on the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) for nutritious meals were left to fend for themselves, it seems that there will be little consequence management for the individuals responsible for the chaos and suffering.

It became clear during yesterday’s portfolio committee meeting with the Department of Basic Education that the individuals responsible for the catastrophe caused by centralising the NSNP would manage to dodge accountability. And while Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga offered empty platitudes and promises during her media briefing yesterday afternoon, the truth is that no amount of oversight will bring about any change if the political will to implement and monitor changes is lacking.

The DA will monitor the investigation outcomes to ensure that all officials who enabled this chaos are held accountable. This type of crisis can only be avoided if those who were responsible for it are brought to book.

Should the investigation reveal favouritism towards ANC cadres by the Department in awarding the tender, the DA will not hesitate to take legal action.

For millions of learners in KZN and across the country, the meals they receive as part of the NSNP are their only meals in a day. A DA parliamentary question to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, recently revealed that 12 582 children died from moderate and severe acute malnutrition over the last decade. A whole of society approach is needed to address this, and the NSNP plays a crucial role in the health and well-being of more than 9.6 million learners across the country. We call on the Department to provide two meals a day to stem the tide against malnutrition and stunting.

The briefing by the Department also revealed that more than 160 000 learners are on the waiting list for learner transport in KZN, and that parents of learners with mild to moderate special needs that attend full-service schools where their needs can be fully supported are fully responsible for the cost of transport as the Department has made no provision to provide them with transport.

It is time that the Department took responsibility for the suffering they caused in KZN, instead of trying to minimise culpability.