By Clayton Shereni
Government Auditors are at Masvingo Polytechnic reportedly to investigate the institution’s alleged gross abuse of funds including money paid under the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) funds.
The money, which is primarily meant for human capital development and to assist underprivileged students, is said to have been channeled to unclear projects by the school’s top authorities including then principal Evans Musara who has since been transferred to Kwekwe Polytechnic.
Last year, hundreds of students at the institution staged a demonstration demanding an explanation as to where their Zimdef money was as they had not been paid for a long time.
Sources told TellZim News that a massive exposé was expected as the institution cannot account for much of the money in question.
“Some students did not receive their exact allocated amounts, so it’s just a matter of time before a lot of issues around the Zimdef money are unearthed,” said the source.
When contacted for comment, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education permanent secretary Professor Fanuel Tagwira said the ministry had approached the Auditor General’s office to audit not only Masvingo Polytechnic but all colleges in the country.
“We have people from the Auditor General’s office whom we have asked to audit all our tertiary institutions. We are trying to improve systems, we actually wrote them a letter and asked them to audit our tertiary institutions,” said Tagwira.
When further asked to respond to allegations of abuse of Zimdef money at Masvingo Polytechnic, Mugwira said other external auditors had done the investigation and the report will be revealed soon.
“There was a special audit done by an external company at every institution which received Zimdef money. There were suspicions that the money was not used in the appropriate manner so the report is now there; it’s a huge three-volume report.
“When we came in, we immediately started to restructure Zimdef and we now have a new management. We are in the process of amending the Manpower Development Act so that we have a Zimdef board. We are trying to implement the recommendations of that report,” said Tagwira.
Masvingo Polytechnic is not new to controversy. Last year, students were forced to re-write a Hexco examination after suspicions of cheating.
The students, who had threatened to resist the order accusing the institution of punishing everybody for the sins of a few, rewrote the exams under the watchful eye of button stick-wielding police officer, with a vicious police dog on leash.
Zimdef is widely perceived to be an easy cash cow for corrupt top government officials in the education sector, with college principals said to be feeding on the crumbs that filter down when the chefs have had their share.