By Robin Muchetu
Mzingwane High School in Esigodini is in the eye of a storm after foreign currency incentives mobilised by parents for teachers late last year failed to reach the intended beneficiaries with parents threatening to withdraw their children if the matter is not solved.
Concerned parents of Ordinary and Advanced level learners had paid US$10 and US$20 to incentivise their children’s teachers in a bid to boost morale during last year’s tiff with their employer.
They also raised issues of bullying at the school where senior learners who are accused of getting drugs from omakorokoza in Esigodini are said to be bullying juniors some of whom no longer want to go back to school.
So bad is the situation at the school that the parents decided to engage the National Assembly Member for Umzingwane, Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome who wrote letters to the Government to investigate the allegations after the school authorities have been dodgy on the matter.
“I was made aware of the deplorable standards at Mzingwane High School where there are allegations of maladministration and have written to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the Provincial Education Director and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to investigate the allegations,” said Rtd Brig-Gen Mayihlome.
He said the situation should not be left to burn itself out but heads should roll so that the school goes back to its days of excellency.
The parents said they were desperate for their children to play catch up on the disrupted syllabus before examinations which forced them to pay the incentives.
They told Sunday News that after the collection of the incentives there was no communication from school authorities acknowledging receipt of the money or from the teachers themselves and called for an audit which they said would shine some light in the dark corners of the school administration.
“The issue of incentives is a tip of the iceberg; a lot is happening there, there is a lot of rot. Mzingwane High has a history of good academic performance dating a long time back but due to issues of lack of accountability and general mendacity it has taken a disappointing slide to say the least.
“It was done by parents of Forms Four and Six who are examination candidates. The parents decided to pay US$10 for October and November incentives,” said the parent who refused to be named for fear of victimisation by the school authorities.
He added. “The School Development Committee (SDC) chairman Mr Comfort Muchekeza advised parents to meet at the City Hall in Bulawayo where the collection of the incentive was to be done.
“Parents did as advised and went and paid the money which was supposed to be paid to the teachers. But we then realised that the list of children whose parents paid the incentive had missing names. Which means there is no accountability for some of the money,” he lamented.
The parent said some parents even paid for the two months, meaning they parted with US$20 per child while a number paid using EcoCash. Other parents who paid for two months were only recorded for one month.
In addition, there has been bullying that has escalated at the school to levels that are unprecedented and the parents cannot come together to discuss this as they were denied the chance to meet by school authorities over the matter.
“When parents discussed bullying, how it can be stopped and also how they can assist the school, they were not given an audience worse still when they consulted about the incentives they were shut out by the chairman.
“We understand that part of the money reached the school, based on the list that was sent to us on the parents’ WhatsApp platform. But that is also the same list that made parents realise some of their children’s names did not appear yet they paid. It left us thinking that the names that did not appear had their funds diverted to an unknown destination and not reaching teachers,” said the parent.
Concerned parents have called for a forensic investigation into what happened adding that the SDC chairman had stayed too long in office and was benefitting.
A senior official from the school who requested anonymity admitted that some funds were missing.
“What never reached the school was EcoCash monies which the SDC chairman did not submit. The US denominations he submitted grudgingly. Some had paid incentives monies through his EcoCash line, quite a reasonable amount.
“The SDC has not been visiting the school since March 2020, yet the SDC chair has been claiming sitting allowances for the whole of 2020, when in fact, there was no meeting held. The bursar and senior teacher (named) have been giving each other allowances that aren’t sanctioned. Building material was purchased in the name of the school, but no construction is taking place at the school,” he said.
Contacted for comment SDC chairman Mr Muchekeza said he was not aware of the developments.
“I am not aware of that, I am driving, let’s chat after an hour,” he said and never responded to the allegations. The Sunday News