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Govt wins hostel food reprieve

2022-09-09  Maria Amakali

Govt wins hostel food reprieve

Four catering companies, who were selected by the education ministry to deliver food to 63 000 learners housed in government hostels countrywide, will continue with their duties after the High Court granted a temporary urgent interdict against the cancellation and re-advertising of the tender.

Yesterday, High Court Judge Boas Usiku ruled in favour of the education ministry by granting the interdict it sought last month against the review panel’s decision to suspend the food tender awarded to Tsepo Catering, Kunene Caterers, Atlantic Catering Solutions, and Eyambeko Namibia Catering Services in July, due to proper procedures not having been followed.

“The fact that the ministry failed to follow statutory procedures required for making awards, does not allay the adverse consequences that may befall the learners who are not to blame for the ministry’s failure to follow the relevant statutory provisions,” said Usiku.

According to Usiku, when public institutions that are supposed to act in the public interest fail to deliver, it is the poor who are adversely affected. 

He said the interim interdict commences with immediate effect and will remain in force until the review application before the court is finalised.

The matter was then postponed to 5 October for case management.

In August, the education ministry approached the High Court on an urgent basis for an interdict against the implementation of the review panel’s decision to suspend the awarded food tender and have the process start afresh in a manner that does not interrupt the supply of food to the schools. 

The ministry wanted the decision halted while the court is dealing with the main review application in which it seeks the review panel’s decision in its entirety to be set aside, and such verdict declared invalid and of no force.

The review panel made the order on 26 July, following a review application on 13 July by Heritage Caterers, one of the companies which lost out on the tender.

The ministry said as a matter of urgency due to the school hostels having been scheduled to open on 17 July, the finance ministry granted an exemption to the education ministry so that it could procure food for school hostels without going through the normal tendering process. This meant the ministry would not have been complying with certain provisions of the Procurement Act.

On 6 July, the bid evaluation committee (BEC) evaluated bids from eight prospective companies. A bid evaluation report was then submitted to the procurement committee. 

On 8 July, Tsepo Catering, Kunene Caterers, Atlantic Catering Solutions, and Eyambeko Namibia Catering Services emerged as successful bidders to supply food from July to December.

A notice was given on 11 July to the unsuccessful bidders, being Free Namibia Caterers, Atlantic Food Services, and Heritage Caterers.

According to the ministry, the review panel’s decision came at a time when the government had already bought the food from the suppliers. 

Heritage said it was within the seven-day timeframe as required by law when it submitted its review application to the review panel.

The catering company sought a review because they had the lowest quotation, which could have saved the government nearly N$10 million. In addition, the ministry unlawfully used benchmark prices and the 5% margin preference - which was unknown to bidders. 


2022-09-09  Maria Amakali

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