FRANCISTOWN: Francistown City Council (FCC) secretary for education Leslie Botsie seems to have made misrepresentations in order to conceal evidence that the city Council was supplying primary schools with infested foodstuffs.
The same sorghum meal supplied by the Council was badly infested with weevils, mould and worms at the local primary schools. Condemnation certificates are there as concrete evidence.
FCC town clerk, Mompati Seleka acknowledged this development this week, informing the FCC supplies officers that no condemnation certificates have been issued against stocks at the Area G warehouse.
Despite denials, intrigues and misrepresentations surrounding the state of sorghum stored and distributed from the Council warehouse at the Area G location, Mmegi investigations can reveal that the problem was widespread.
Some Council employees have chosen to conceal a problem that not only could be a health hazard to pupils, but also bleeds the Council coffers dry.
There is general contention about the purity of the supplies from the Council warehouse, as a certificate giving them a clean bill of health does not consistently accompany the supplies.
Some Council supplies staff recently dug their heels in when offered to supply sorghum meal to local schools insisting that it was contaminated and pleaded for proper testing to clear off any confusion.
Some schools in Francistown that have been supplied with the sorghum meal in question have thrown out their bad supplies. At Phatsimo Primary School in Francistown’s Block-3 location, the cooks have thrown-out bad stock in the kitchen’s courtyard for fear that it could contaminate the rest of their children’s feed.
Mokaleng Primary School, Our Lady of the Desert and Lekgaba Primary School have also done the same.
The situation is that at some stage, the Council warehouse contained about 800 50kg bags of sorghum meal costing about P140,000 which some Council staff feared to have either moulded or infested with weevil or both.
There was a time recently when Council supplies staff even dug their heels in, refusing to deliver the supplies of sorghum and maize to schools indicating that it had turned bad.
Even when confronted with information coming from some schools that they had rejected the supplies from the Council, Botsie and his team were adamant that there was no truth in such reports.
Last week Botsie rubbished information gathered from multiple sources strongly suggesting that the Council is forcing its employees to supply primary schools in the city with sorghum that is not edible.
“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 regard to our food supplies in recent times”.
However, the latest developments indicate that the city Council for sometime has been aware about the shockingly bad quality of the sorghum supplied to schools.
The Council officers at the department of environmental health allegedly first raised the flag about the poor state of the sorghum sometime ago.
Mmegi is in possession of four condemnation certificates issued by the environmental health department at the FCC last month where 60 bags of beans, maize and sorghum meal of undisclosed value were duly destroyed.
They were found to be unfit for human consumption at the schools supplied by the FCC with foodstuffs.
This is despite claims by Botsie last week disputing our story indicating otherwise that according to his best recollections, the environmental health department continued to give the warehouse and their schools a clean bill of health.
Despite the concealment of the truth about the matter, information circulated thick and fast within the Council with parents of pupils at various schools breathing fire on the necks of teachers.
Botsie also attempted to offer explanation as to why the headmaster at Phatsimo turned down some supplies, but appeared not convincing. Phatsimo was cited amongst schools that have received the sorghum.
“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,” Botsie had rendered an explanation.
Asked why the headmaster 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 headmaster used her discretion when turning down the sorghum supply”.
On Wednesday, FCC outgoing clerk, Mompati Seleka tendered a comprehensive and detailed explanation of how things turned out at the Council supplies depot.
His tone was of a sorry man as he acceded to the rot at the Council and unlike other officers, he purely appreciated Mmegi investigations saying it has helped to strengthen their supply chain management systems especially from the side of the schools.
“We will always consider your reports to be feedback from the public and not malice,” he concluded.