FED UP: Some service providers claim certain school principals want a hefty bribe before signing invoices. This means they can’t run the nutrition programme or provide for their own families. Picture: IHSAAN HAFFEJEE
The provincial department of education is investigating several principals who are refusing to sign invoices of service providers of the school nutrition programme unless they are given substantial bribes.
The department recently enrolled more than 1000 cooperatives – mainly run by women – to provide the programme to more than one million children in the province. This programme has been allocated more than R1.2bn by the education MEC, Senzo Mchunu.
Many of the newly appointed cooperatives have complained that their invoices were either not being signed or deliberately delayed for weeks. This left them with no money to run the nutrition programme and also without money to provide for their own families.
Mchunu said the principals implicated would be investigated and the department would take action against those found guilty.
“It has come to our attention that there are some principals who deliberately frustrate the work of service providers who have been appointed to provide the National School Nutrition Programme in our schools. These principals are said to be refusing to sign invoices given to them by service providers and this frustrates and delays the process that aims to ensure that these service providers get paid on time,” he said.
Mchunu added the programme was also a way of addressing poverty in the respective areas, which was one of the challenges faced by society.
He said they brought in some cooperatives from the poor communities to benefit from the programme.
“What we wanted to ensure was that we slice the cake evenly so that we benefit as many of our people as possible. To this end, the response that we have received so far from across the length and breadth of our province is very positive and very heartening,” Mchunu said.
“We are therefore going to investigate these allegations and we will take firm action if they are true. This National School Nutrition Programme aims to alleviate the plight of children especially those who come from indigent families.