FRANCISTOWN: Francistown City Council (FCC) employees have accused senior management officials of forcing them to supply primary schools in the city rotting sorghum to be consumed by pupils.
The FCC chief education secretary, Leslie Botsie who is directly involved with the supply of food rations to primary schools in the city is alleged to be amongst those pushing council officers to supply the sorghum rations that are not in a desirable state for consumption.
The sorghum under question is stored at a government depot at Area G.
While the sorghum was supplied between late last year and early this year, employees suspect that it might have been kept longer than the prescribed time or special precautions were not taken while it was under storage. As a result, the sorghum ended up moulding and in the process attracting weevils.
“The council just ordered in bulk for the sake of ordering, now it piles. Some 25kg sorghum bags have gone bad and the only thing that can be done is to be thrown away but they (senior officials) don’t want to do that.
“They want it delivered in its current state because that way they will be covered (from accusations of wasting the taxpayer’s money) as they will argue that the sorghum was delivered to schools in a good state but was not used in time,” said one of the employees speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to the aggrieved council employees, sorghum in 1,552 bags purchased last year and early this year has moulded and is infested with weevils.
The officers added that some primary schools have already discarded the condemned sorghum outside their kitchens. The officers alleged that the city council is supposed to carry out random tests on its sorghum stock before supplying to schools, but the procedure is not being followed in relation to the current sorghum supplies as it is inevitable that they will be condemned.
The previous Thursday morning, Mmegi visited Phatsimo, one of the primary schools that is alleged to have received the sorghum that has moulded and is infested with weevils.
Upon arrival one of the school officials who did not want to be named confirmed that there was sorghum that has moulded and has weevils. She pointed out that the sorghum was outside the kitchen. When asked when the sorghum was supplied, the officers became hostile before referring further enquiries to the head teacher. The head teacher was also hostile and did not want to dwell much on the matter. The head teacher was adamant that she was not the one to take questions from the media referring all enquiries to the FCC.
She wondered who could have tipped the media about things happening at her school when she was out
One of her colleagues, a teacher apparently responsible for the school feed intimated that some of their sorghum supplies had moulded. She claimed that the supply came before the schools closed and only to realise when the schools reopened that the sorghum had turned bad and was not fit for consumption.
There was no denying that within the kitchen courtyard, there were some sorghum bags stored just outside the school store-room, which could not be used because they gone irretrievably bad.
Mmegi also has it on good authority that on the same day of Mmegi’s visit in the afternoon, the head teacher of Phatsimo reportedly turned down another supply stating that it was not in a desired state for consumption by pupils.
Other primary schools that allegedly received the condemned sorghum are Mahudiri and Mokaleng. In fact, late last week cooks at Mahudiri are also alleged to have turned down another supply ration from council officials as it was not suitable for consumption.
Yesterday, Botsie rubbished claims that the FCC is forcing its officers to supply sorghum that is not suitable for consumption to schools. “We have professional people at the warehouse who regularly test food items that are supplied by the council to schools and other government organisations. If the food is not fit for consumption they issue a condemnation certificate,” said Botsie.
He added in his response, “We supply schools with food monthly and on a weekly basis we receive reports on the stock we have supplied. If there is a problem with the food supplied, the schools report to us and we act accordingly. Schools have not reported any problem with regards to our food supplies in recent times”.
Botsie also offered an explanation as to why the head teacher at Phatsimo turned down some supplies.
“The reason why the school head at Phatsimo did not receive the sorghum bags is because she said that they were using a single pot at their kitchen as others were still under maintenance.”
Asked why the head teacher did not take the sorghum bags to the kitchen storeroom, as they had nothing to do with the maintenance of electric pots Botsie said, “I am not privy to all the details but what I understand is that the head teacher used her discretion when turning down the sorghum supply”.
Yesterday council employees at the supplies department maintained their original stance. They said that Botsie’s position is a public relations exercise. Children at the mentioned schools either go hungry, or are forced to eat rotten sorghum meals.