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Primary school caterers cry foul over non-payment

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

Basotho citizens that were engaged under the government’s school feeding program for Primary schools for the year 2020/2021 have not yet been paid their money, Newsday has learned.

Government through the Ministry of Education has gone on to say that most of the people have been paid and that for those that remained, there is bound to be legitimate reasons including late submissions of claims.

However, some of the feeders that talked to this publication have professed to having played by the rules all the way, including making timeous claims submissions.

For instance, take the case of ‘Maretlotliloe Leomoha* who has been working at the Lithabaneng Primary. She said she has been submitting claims within schedule all the time but still maintains she last received a payment last year.

“I submitted my three claims, the first one was for the January payment which was submitted in February, followed by the second one submitted for February and March which was the last month but to date I have not received money,” she said.

Leomoha stated that her and her colleagues have gone as far as paying the Ministry of Education offices a visit to demand answers.

“There was no better answer because the officer we met indicated that our papers were no longer with their office hence they could not provide answers why our payments are still pending,” she said.

“The delayed payments negatively affect our lives and our economic statuses because we need money for our upkeep. We have to pay school fees for our children and pay for other things like food and rent but there’s no better answer,” she said.   

Leomoha stated that she started working in April 2020 feeding 20 children and every person was paid according to the number of children they fed.

“Initially, there were clearly stipulated paydays for us. But then things changed and we started getting money at different and inconsistent times and sometimes by the time we got paid we would be so swamped in debt. That is when we demanded that we be paid monthly and from August to October things were much better. The problem arose when we were supposed to be paid for November because the payment for November was paid on December 24- a day before Christmas. That was our very last payment until today,” she said. 

In an interview with Newsday, the Chief Education Officer Basic Education Ntšekhe Thuto confirmed that there were indeed people who are yet to be paid, although she said different delays were subject to different causes and reasons.

“We only need to know which people from which schools have not been paid so that I will be in the position to explain the reasons for not paying them. I am saying this because some them have been paid already,” she said.

Thuto stated that one of the reasons for not paying may be the delay to submit claims. “some the people that are not yet I because they delayed to submit their claims. That may be because they are living in the remote areas of Lesotho and for them to go to town it is difficult. But when someone has submitted their claim they are not delayed to be paid. So as soon as their claims are submitted they will be paid. Otherwise it has to be clear of which people are not paid so that we can know the reason for them not being paid if there are those that have submitted but they are not paid,” she said.

“Claims that have been submitted have been processed. January claims all over the country have not yet been paid, they are being processed. Other than that a person may not receive they payment in time because there were problems with filling in their claims but that is not common” she said.

Thuto stated that the school feeding program now has no problems compared to years back because now caterers are paid on a monthly basis and when they have submitted their claims.  

She stated that caterers are paid according to the number of children they feed. They are expected to use their resources from the beginning of the month and get paid at the end of the month. Roughly one person earns about M7000 depending on the number of children one gets to feed.

At the end of the month the caterer makes and submits a claim to the school principal for verification. Then the claim will be taken to the district education office for further verification and to the ministry of education office where they are also checked and when everything is fine they are paid.    *Names have been changed to protect identity for fear of vitimisation.

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