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Kill The Tender

Botsotso Ensemble – Loosing the Contract (Episode 1)

Botsotso Ensemble – Joining the New Union – Workers Unite (Episode 2)

Botsotso Ensemble – Occupation and Victory (Episode 3)

Kill the Tender!
Insource, Outsource – We all want Insource!

The play examines the consequences of the tender system and how it has caused corruption, poor quality work and exposed state mismanagement as political and business elites manipulate local government funds for their own profit.

It is well known that service delivery problems are largely caused by a terrible lack of government capacity. Government does not employ enough technical and financial experts to carry out the projects that need to be implemented to meet the demand for working class housing and other necessary basic infrastructure and social services. Instead, all the planning and implementation is sub-contracted, supposedly to qualified black owned companies but, in reality, to inexperienced and incompetent ‘shelf’ companies that cut costs and do not deliver quality results – or simply run off with the money.

The play shows how the sub-contract for a school-feeding scheme in a medium sized town is hijacked by an entrepreneur who has never run such schemes, but who wins the tender because of his connections with officials in the department of education and a local councillor.

When workers at the company that has been running the feeding scheme, learn that a new company is going to take over the contract, they first side with their bosses to fight this. They join their bosses in challenging the corrupt Department of Education official and the local councillor and pledge to mobilise the schools and their community to stop this new company from taking over.

However, when the workers who have been employed by the new company realise that the fixed term contracts they are signing, grant them starvation wages and no benefits, they approach the workers who are losing their jobs, and propose an alliance.

This alliance – between workers, their local civics and a new democratic and militant trade union – leads to the occupation of Department of Education offices. The central demand is that the feeding scheme be run by a worker-managed co-operative which will provide permanent jobs and a living wage. They also demand that the feeding scheme be expanded (to include more schools) and that many more vegetable gardens be established to supply enough food for the learners – thus creating more local jobs.

In short, workers realise that it is the system as a whole which needs to be changed and not merely a particular tender award which must be reversed.

The play ends with the corrupt official resigning but agreeing that a special committee of all stakeholders, including the civics and trade union, be established to assess the whole practice of outsourcing and implement the necessary changes.