NSNP debacle: More than 124 000 KZN learners risk going hungry as DoE lurches from one crisis to the next

Issued by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Education
27 Mar 2024 in Press Statements

The recent National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP) funding debacle within KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Education (DoE) has further highlighted the shocking disconnect between MEC, Mbali Frazer and her Head of Department, Nkosinathi Ngcobo.

This after the HOD issued a circular, announcing that almost 125,000 or 5% of learners already benefitting from the programme would be deprived of what is for many their only meal of the day – only for the decision to be almost immediately overturned by the MEC.

The shambolic incident involving an allegedly feckless MEC and her HoD is of great concern. It also highlights the lack of political stewardship that saw millions of KZN learners left to starve last year during a NSNP tender debacle, that the programme is still reeling from.

While the DA notes the MEC’s withdrawal of the plan to cease feeding almost 125 000 learners, the fact is that the DoE’s dire financial state, poor management of the NSNP and acrimonious relationship between the MEC and her department have now been laid bare.

That the DoE was prepared to stop feeding such a large number of learners – and not just planning to do so but also issuing a notice that it would do so – is not surprising, given that the DoE’s wheels are falling off as a result of current internal politics.

MEC Frazer and her department’s plans must be strongly condemned, while her 11th hour withdrawal from the plan must be seen for what it is. Placing what may be the only food source for many learners on any given day at risk is simply repugnant and heads must roll.

Such incompetence and flip-flopping between the MEC and her HOD must now come to an end with her resignation. The DA has long called for the MEC to depart her office but she has refused while KZN’s Taliban faction ANC government, that deployed her, is well known for protecting gross incompetence.

The DA has written to KZN Education committee portfolio Chairperson, Sifiso Sonjica (view here) to request an urgent meeting and for the MEC and HOD to be summoned to provide details, clarity and accountability for this public spat and mess. We will also send urgent written parliamentary questions to begin a process of inquiry into how this debacle unfolded.

Our children’s futures can no longer be put on the line due to a dearth of political oversight. The people of KZN will have the opportunity to put an end to this and rescue our province from an uncaring, unethical and shoddy ANC government when they go to the polls on 29th May.