Lariba Zuweira Abudu, Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, has refuted reports that all caterers working for the government’s school feeding program are NPP members.
Dorothy Ofori Sarpong, the spokeswoman for the caterers in the Ashanti Region, recently asserted that all caterers hired through the program, including the leadership, are NPP members.
In response, Madam Lariba Zuweira Abudu stated that she was unaware of the allegations and further stated that it was difficult for her to know the political affiliations of the thousands of caterers, who had been hired.
“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.”Gender Minister
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.”
The caterers, who have stopped offering their services since the reopening of the schools, claim that the government’s offer is insufficient and inappropriate. Madam Lariba Zuweira Abudu suggested an increase of GH1.20. Before ending their walkout, the irate caterers sought payment of GH $3.50 per child.
Caterers Call NPP-Led-Administration Heartless
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has been criticized by the school feeding program’s caterers as being callous and insensitive for ignoring their concerns.
The government had been urged by the caterers to pay off their unpaid debts and raise the amount per child. Dorothy Ofori Sarpong, a spokesperson for the Ashanti Region caterers, lambasted the government for failing to comply with their demands.
“Nobody in the national head office or the presidency will say that they have not heard what is going on. They are our husbands, we are their wives, sisters and daughters, and they know us. Nobody has even taken the pain to ask why we have been ranting all this while.
“They rather insult us that we are disgracing them, but what we are going through, they don’t care, that is why I’m saying they [government] are heartless, people are dying, and they don’t care. We have gone everywhere, they all have information about our case.”Dorothy Ofori Sarpong
Asked if their public outburst will not affect the fortunes of the party in the 2024 general elections, the caterers in the Ashanti Region stated, “Unless they provide whatever we are asking, then we can gather momentum and campaign for them for being a listening government. They should listen to our cries and provide us with what we want. If they refuse, we will all go to sleep. Until they pay us our money, we will not do that again for them to get power and lord over us.”