Soldiers sent home as bases run out of food due to tender glitch

Members of the South African National Defence Force. Picture: LOYISO MPALANTSHANE
Members of the South African National Defence Force. Picture: LOYISO MPALANTSHANE

A potential food supply crisis‚ which affected hundreds of soldiers at military bases across the country‚ was caused by a new government procurement system.

Food to bases in Mpumalanga‚ Gauteng‚ and Limpopo began running low on Sunday‚ with base commanders ordering troops to return home because they could not be fed.

Soldiers‚ who have money deducted from their salaries‚ we reforced to pay for their own transport home.

While those who could afford to return home did‚ scores who could not were left stranded and hungry.’

The SANDF said yesterday a new electronic procurement system had resulted in certain food suppliers being unable to make their deliveries.

A soldier based in Middelburg in Mpumalanga, who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media‚ said section heads had told the men there was a food crisis and that they needed to go home.

He said R1 100 was deducted from their salaries for accommodation and food.

“We have never had such a situation where there has been no food in the base,” he said.

Among the bases affected are those in Zeerust‚ Doornkop ‚ Middelburg and Mafikeng.

The crisis appears for now to have been averted after a meeting was held yesterday between the SA National Defence Union and the SANDF.

The meeting came after the union issued a letter of demand to the SANDF on Tuesday instructing it to bring the troops back to base and supply them with food.

Sandu secretary Pikkie Greeff said the number of soldiers affected would run to hundreds.

He criticised the government on twitter‚ saying: “While our President Zuma is on his way to attend Castro’s funeral‚ his soldiers are going hungry.

Would Fidel have been proud?” SANDF spokesman Colonel Ronald Maseko said the bases affected were 2‚ 4 and 21 South African Infantry Battalions.

He said the SANDF had experienced low levels of rations at three of its units as a result of the introduction of the e-procure system by the national Treasury.

“It is aimed at regulating the supply chain management in government.“The new procurement system requires that all suppliers be centrally registered on the national treasury’s database.

“This re-registration has led‚ in some instances‚ to some suppliers being unable to deliver or supply the SANDF as per tender contract regulations due to their details‚ as per new regulations‚ being incomplete on the system.”
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