By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2020-09-17
A Select Committee from the House of Assembly investigating the alleged gross irregularities relating to maladministration, production of results and other corrupt practices at the Examinations Council has unearthed a can of worms at the institution.
A report compiled by the Select Committee has revealed how results for four schools in 2017 were fraudulently produced.
The committee was also informed of how ECESWA Registrar Dr Edmund Mazibuko allegedly received a E1 million handshake from Micro Projects.
The report was presented yesterday in the House of Assembly by the Chairperson of the Select Committee MP Musa Mabuza.
Gugu Mtsetfwa-Gumbi, the Subject Officer at the Exams Council said in 2017, there were scripts that went missing for Sigcaweni High School, SAIM High School, Lusoti High School and Masibekela High School.
She said while they were marking, it transpired that the Form V scripts for these schools for various subjects were missing.
She said they tried to locate the missing scripts to no avail. Mtsetfwa-Gumbi said what was unfortunate in this whole mess was the fact that the office of the registrar did not inform them in time about the missing papers.
She mentioned that she developed an interest in the matter because, seemingly all managers at the Exams Council were clueless on what might have happened to the scripts, yet they were the ones who were supposed to be kept abreast on such unfortunate developments. “It is still a mystery as to where the marks allocated to those children came from,” Mtsetfwa-Gumbi submitted.
She went on to add that it is clear that the said results for 2017 were allegedly produced fraudulently.
Mtsetfwa-Gumbi said there was a need to report the missing scripts to the police, but unfortunately until today nothing has been done.
She said the Exams Council was not supposed to give pupils marks they did not deserve by just assuming or making an intelligent guess.
Mtsetfwa-Gumbi said in 2017, Lusoti High School candidates went for remarking, and to their surprise they passed with flying colours, particularly in English.
The subject officer said the interesting part is that the difference between the main results and the remarked ones was too little.
“The IT director was notified of the error, but he downplayed the matter and said it was because Lusoti High School had its Paper 4 marks omitted from the system,” she said.
Mtsetfwa-Gumbi went on to explain that the registrar told them to keep quiet about the matter as he was still carrying out some internal investigations.
Making her submissions, Dr Sibongile Mtshali, the Under Secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, said at some point two officials from ECESWA came to see her at the Ministry of Education and Training, where they were complaining about some irregularities in the manner the registrar was running the Exams Council.
She said regarding the missing of scripts from Masibekela High School, she never got any concrete report from the Exams Council on what really happened and that it is a pity the scripts got lost.
REGISTRAR ALLEGED TO HAVE RECEIVED E1m HANDSHAKE
Staff members at ECESWA are now divided after a reported E1 million handshake was allegedly received by ECESWA Registrar Dr Edmund Mazibuko.
These allegations were made by Dudu Shongwe, who is Product Manager for Science Subjects at the Examinations Council.
Shongwe said staff members are divided in the manner things are happening at the Examinations Council, particularly on the alleged E1 million handshake from Micro Projects, which the registrar is alleged to have pocketed.
“Furthermore, the issue of the missing scripts from Lusoti High School, SAIM High School, Masibekela High School and Sigcaweni High School have also caused division,” Shongwe said.
The Director of Micro Projects Sibusiso Mbingo, when making his submissions, said in 2016 the Exams Council invited Micro Projects to a meeting where they mentioned that they wanted to construct their offices.
He said in the very same year the Exams Council and Micro Projects signed an MoU on how best they could work in building the structure at a reasonable cost.
Mbingo said in 2017, the auditor general picked up an anomaly and mentioned that it was an oversight that Micro Projects can receive monies from the Exams Council because those funds should first be approved or appropriated by Parliament.
He said Micro Projects appreciated the concern and took back the funds, which were to the tune of E471 000 to Exams Council in March 2019.
He said Exams Council came to request the services of Micro Projects, because after consulting specialists, they were charged E22 million over and above what Micro Project was charging.
Mbingo explained that Micro Projects provided free services to the Exams Council, and the E1 million paid was just for unforeseen services of the project.
Mbingo said the building was in the region of E170 million and cost effective. He argued that the implementation of the project was transparent.
Staff at ECESWA submitted before the committee that they were afraid of reporting the registrar, as he was victimising them and as a result they feared losing their jobs.
Some of those who reported the alleged corruption claimed they were hauled before a disciplinary hearing for trumped up charges.
Between the years 2013 and 2017, it is alleged that ECESWA made a costly mistake by making double payments to someone identified as Stephen and Son of EUR 150 000.
An analysis of the transactions between 2013 and 2017, according to the report, showed that the double payments would have cost ECESWA a minimum of EUR810 500, which is more than E14 million of looted funds had the anomalities not been picked up and reported to then Principal Secretary Dr Sibongile Mtshali, who made means that the funds be recovered.
The report goes on to state that a similar contract Stephen and Sons had with Lesotho showed that ECESWA was paying five times more than what Lesotho was paying for the same services.
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