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South African Watchdog Launches Probe Into School Uniform Prices, Again

 |  January 15, 2023

South Africa’s Competition Commission is investigating the procurement of school uniforms – questioning why parents are forced to pay so much for the items.

Khanyisa Qobo, a divisional manager at the commission, told radio station SAfm the price of school uniforms was high in South Africa because schools often prefer to source from one supplier.

This is not necessarily against procurement rules because unique items such as blazers or tracksuits are typically only provided by single suppliers. But it is vital, she added, that schools ensure contracts remain competitive and are reviewed regularly.

Related: South Africa Publishes Guidelines For School Uniform Competition

Qobo said the commission had surveyed schools and found that too many were signing “evergreen” contracts with suppliers rather than re-evaluating arrangements on a regular basis.

“We see that single suppliers typically sell unique items, so we encourage more competitive procurement and periodical analysis of suppliers,” Qobo said.

She also called on schools to broaden supplier options when sourcing more generic pieces of clothing.

She added that high prices are also a result of inflationary pressures in the supply chain and the commission would be investigating prices and mark-ups.