Use SMEs for school feeding
The Teacher’s Union of Namibia (TUN) proposes that the Ministry of Education awards food tenders to constituency-based companies to promote local economic development and to allow the money to reach small scale businesses. The Ministry of Education selected 7 out of 88 companies to award food tenders this year. These tenders have since been recalled but TUN is urging the government to act more within the interests of small scale Namibian businesses when awarding food tenders in the future.
“[TUN has observed that] tenders are being awarded to companies that are mostly foreign-owned, however, with Namibians as frontmen to assume a Namibian character” said Mahongora Kavihuha, the President of TUN. The food tenders are meant to help education by ensuring that no child goes to school on an empty stomach. In effect, the tenders are also meant to help communities grow economically. According to Kavihuha, one of the requirements of the tenders is that companies are expected to have an overdraft facility of N$5,000,000 and a service bonus of N$1,500,000. These criteria eliminate smaller local companies. “Where will you have a poor man having an overdraft of five million with the bank? It will be difficult” said Kavihuha. Kavihuha suggested that the ministry adjust their selections to ensure these lower income businesses also have an opportunity. According to Kavihuha, “when it comes to BEE, it is the same clique that continues to benefit from these tenders, thus perpetuating the status of the rich getting richer and the grassroots being left out.” He stated that if any tender is given at the constituency level, it will automatically translate that the requirement of five million and the service bonus will be less. This means that more middle income Namibians will be able to benefit from it. According to Kavihuha, “if [the tenders are] brought down to constituency level, automatically that constituency company will be sourcing from within [their own] constituencies. The butcheries [in those] small towns where the various constituencies will be operating and the small crop farmers will at least be further motivated, and this tender will have a meaning to the livelihood of the Namibian, rather than it only benefitting a few.”