Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, Lariba Zuweira Abudu, has refuted claims suggesting that all caterers involved in the government’s School Feeding Programme are affiliated with the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In a recent interview, Dorothy Ofori Sarpong, the spokesperson for the caterers in the Ashanti Region, asserted that all caterers recruited under the program, including the leadership, are members of the NPP.
However, Minister Lariba Zuweira Abudu expressed her lack of knowledge regarding these claims. She further emphasized the impossibility of being aware of the political inclinations of the numerous contracted caterers involved in the program.
“I’m not aware. Do you normally believe all those stories? I’m dealing with 30,860 caterers. How do I know their party affiliations? I sit here, and some ladies come to me with problems, and I know they are known National Democratic Congress members. It’s not true. This programme was advertised. You apply, we shortlist you, we make you go through medicals, and then we hire you and give you a contract of two years.
“Everybody belongs to a particular party. I’m hiring a number of people. How will I know that all these coming are from one party? She may be anybody who just wants to muddy the waters. I don’t want to believe what she’s saying. Anybody can just phone in and talk as if they are a party member. Maybe she’s not, who knows? Maybe she’s also trying to play her cards well,” the minister added.
Touching on the arrears of the caterers and the proposed GH¢1.20 increment, the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection said, “We are just owing 2022 third term. We have paid the first and second terms. I hear them saying we owe them 2017 and 2018. We asked them to bring their documents. When we look at the documents, and they are correct, we just pay. Some of them don’t even have contracts. There are issues they themselves know. Some of them the figures they give are not realistic. We paid the arrears on June 6, except for those who have issues. I’m happy that some of them are cooking in the Northern, Ashanti, Greater Accra regions, and elsewhere.”
Madam Lariba Zuweira Abudu proposed an increase of GH¢1.20, but the caterers, who have withdrawn their services since the reopening of schools, say the government’s offer is inadequate and unacceptable.
The aggrieved caterers are demanding payment of GH¢3.50 per child before they end their strike.