Hexco probe opens Pandora’s box


Dr Olivia Muchena

Takunda Maodza Assistant News Editor
A Government probe into the state of affairs at Hexco has confirmed that the officer running the national exams database is not qualified for the job, while several board members have no clue what their duties are. The Herald reported in February that Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Dr Washington Mbizvo approved the appointment of an automotive precision machinist to oversee the exams database, an IT function.

Higher Education Minister Dr Olivia Muchena subsequently appointed a six-member team to probe potential threats to Zimbabwe’s higher examinations system.
The team confirmed that Mr Francis Taivavashe — who was appointed by the then acting director for standards development and quality assurance Mr Joyce Mbudzi — with authority from Dr Mbizvo, had no IT qualification as required.

It also said some Higher Education Examinations Council board members did not know their responsibilities.
The Hexco board comprises polytechnic principals, the director of the School of Hospitality and Tourism, two private colleges’ representatives, two ex-officio members representing teachers colleges, and directors from the ministry as ex-officio members.

Not only was Mr Taivavashe found to be unqualified, but he also placed the credibility of national exams at risk because he carried the database around on flash drives.
He designed, installed, operationalised and individually managed the database of all testing of tertiary students in Zimbabwe and it is unclear who actually owns the system.

Because no one supervised him, he could do as he pleased with the exams database.
“Mr Taivavashe is a qualified automotive precision mechanist identified by the then acting director to develop the National Examinations Management Information System (NEMIS) software. However, he does not possess qualifications in IT but has experience gained through training and exposure at national, regional and global fora,” the team said.

NEMIS started operating in 2012 and has been used in three national exams.
Previously, ICT officers at the Higher Education Ministry and the Hexco secretariat head office in Harare managed the database.

The team recommended that the ministry “approach the Civil Service Commission to approve (an) IT post within Hexco to bring normalcy to the operations of Hexco and the ministry at large”.

They also confirmed, as reported by The Herald, that procurement of NEMIS did not go through the tender process.
“However, Mr Taivavashe was paid US$2 000 which was called a token of appreciation. This could either have prejudiced Mr Taivavashe or the Government,” reads the report.

The team said it was not provided with some of the information it needed to thoroughly conduct its probe.
“No design and operational manuals for NEMIS were availed to the task team therefore the task team could not determine ownership of the NEMIS.

“The director (of) standards development and quality assurance should have design and operational manuals in both soft and hard copies as a security and back-up measure. Design and operational manuals help with continuity.”

Their investigations show that Mr Taivavashe had sole privilege to monitor and upgrade the system.
“It is recommended that the ministry develops and implements a succession plan for continuity, to instil confidence in the National Examinations Management Information System. There must be an audit trail of Mr Taivavashe’s entry and exit from the system which currently is not monitored giving rise to speculation that he can tamper with the database without anyone knowing,” further reads the report.

It was also confirmed that Mr Taivavashe was moving around with exam materials on flash drives.
“The task team noted that Mr Taivavashe was observed to move around with flash disks, being tools of the trade in IT business, for the purpose of upgrading the system and attending to queries. The above necessitates excessive movement from region to region where NEMIS is installed,” says the report.

“The fact that the system was developed by one person who is the only one with the authority to give permissions and passwords to access the database puts the system at risk.”

On the Hexco board, the team concluded that some “board members were not well-versed with their roles in the board” and recommended training for them.

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  • Righteous Gunda

    I am glad the probe team acknowledges that even though Taivavashe was not IT qualified but he has the relevant regional experience…I know Francis has even done work for Presidents office.Hearald your headline is rather misleading ….

    • “The Goat”

      If Francis was as smart as you want us to believe, he should have switched careers by obtaining an IT qualification. His work, good as it maybe, was bound and has obviously brought him into a collission course with other IT experts in the system. The headline is not misleading at all. The article is obviously a toned down version of the probe outcome. I fear worse things are yet to come out for as the article hihglights, ” Most HEXCO board members are not aware of their duties”. This is not about Francis as an individual but the system.

      • Kufakwejeyi

        A goat indeed except the platform was meant for people

    • maita

      True from the story it appears the man managed to do his job well. I had some graduate IT people are useless to say the list. This guy from the story could be better than those considered to have IT qualifications. Ndosaka industry yedu yadonha we ignore experience and look at books, yet vane theory vacho havagone basa. Ask one Telone technician, from college he was given a gang to work with, made of experienced madharas who new colour codes from the head, he refused them to do their cooking and when it came to joining the wires they asked him to do it since he was the qualified guy imiwe, it took him weeks and due to inexperience a lot of problems arose. They had to redo the job in one day vakuita vega mdhara acho ,kubva ipapo ange akuvatengera maguru nemasusu acho ekubika. So as long as he can do it let him do it. Bill Gate makazonzwa kuti akaita professorship ema Computer?

  • Omo Gezani

    Training was recommended for those board members who had no clue as to what they are supposed to do, REALLY? Why dont you just fire them and get qualified people. How did they get in? Zimbabwe is really burning, its scandals everywhere, Wankie, ZBC, Zesa, Air Zimbabwe, Cuthbert Dube, aah the list is endless!

  • kwambuya

    Qualifications do not necessarily produce results. Important for Zimbabwe to note in general and specifically on all aspects of this report.

    Secondly, we welcome the limitation on terms of office for heads of ministries. Mbizvo has been around for quite a while and the tendency to become a law unto yourself is but human.

    Finally, HEXCO is only one casualty of the malaise. I have reliable information that University of Zimbabwe, with Mbizvo as overseer, without a competent Senate, is mired in worse than we are seeing and hearing from HEXCO. There is more!

  • samaz

    wana Gunda y are yu sympathizing with this Taivavashe thing? Kasi u are one of the beneficiaries who got diplomas without sitting for the exam? We @ Hre Poly have a short man by Eng. T Mudondo, one of the board members, who seem to know everything yet he knows NOTHING.

    • Yuri

      I think some of the commenst here border on ignorance. Guys do you know what is an application system in IT and how it is developed? Can anyone explain the data base management system and best practise for its development? its not about qualifications only!!!!!

  • Mulongoti

    The issue of qualifications really doesn’t matter as only 10% of what a person acquires in formal education is used practically at the workplace. This is just pure negligence. Qualifications do nothing to change a person’s inborn moral blameworthiness inherent in that person’s flawed character. If qualifications determined honesty , then the country ‘s jail would be full of unqualified murderers, white collar criminals and rapists etc only.

  • Sipeshari

    Chinebasa ndechekuti database rinoshanda here , vana Steve jobs had no it qualification asi tarisai impact yakaita on IT ndatoita post iri from iPad yaakagadzira, ndinoziva ma computer science graduates who failed to burn a dvd . Ndosaka Zimbabwe yakazara nemadokotera nema professor vasina kana chii chavakagadzira

    • leemoyo

      This guy must be the first Zimba kupihwa PHD

  • Taps wekwa Jafare

    We have Engineers like Hon. Mzembi running ministries like Tourism and Hosp very well. We also had economists like Tendai Biti driving Finance very well. If the man has successfully ran 3 examination sessions and has designed an efficient system why analyse his qualifications. If a medical doctor can play football very well should we say he should go to an academy in order that we field him. There is a cat and mouse game here. Someone wants theman to go. Herald do not be used to publicise internal vendettas. The story reeks of internal squabbles and malicious intents.


    please HEXCO we need our dual learning result for 2012

  • Missing on real culprits

    The HEXCO Board is anomalous. The Heads of TVET institutions are the Board….. Its like having Headmasters as ZIMSEC members…. where they will be busy sweeping their blunders under the carpet…. and/or being manipulated by their directors and Permanent Secretary who are members of the board… (never mined the Ex-officio tag… The bottom line is that the members are seriously compromised and also have vested interests…. Some senior managers at Head office tried to suggest a revamp of the Board….. They did not win… Some were victimised and retained…other were victimised and formed to leave… There is a phobia of external scrutiny in the Ministry ( despite the advantages of credibility that accrue there from)… Adverse Audit observations have been suppressed…. Laterally all decisions are made by the Perm Sec….. even on routine admin issues like allocation of vehicles to institutions and departments…. etc etc and HEXCO is treated like a gagged workers committee

  • Mbanda

    Eyebrow raising but tailor-made to suit the readers while misleading the nation. With all the Ministers and Secretaries watching! How can this be? If someone is trying to create a vacant for someone you can go ahead and replace corruption with yet another corruption.

  • Jongwe

    Now I am suspicious of every government body. I doubt that even the hospitals are manned by qualified doctors, who knows, you might find IT professionals masquarading as doctors if you did an investigation. Even at Zesa, you are likely to find n’angas posing as high voltage electrical engineers. What has happened to this once mighty nation of ours? Perhap a curse from the Heavens?

  • Takaruza Tumbktu

    The precision machinist managed well even though he did not have IT Qualification. If the job is given to a qualified IT person, I bet you will hear scandals after scandals.

    • Jotham

      Assumptions are wild after all.

  • cxvc


  • KingZaka||

    Then you ignore foreign qualifications preferring this circus. There is even a lot of “money changing hands for alterations” news which we have from very reliable sources. Let me rest my case since it is still under investigation.

    • Chandunga

      Dura tinzwe. You know something????

  • dibango

    the way hexco exams are manged tho not the best is better that those at some universities were the lecturer sets exams for his/her student. also tell us how exams are managed at universities, it seems some people want to discredit HEXCO but if the truth be told some polytechnic graduates are doing better in industries than thos with university degrees and some have better points at A level than some university students who were enrolled with as low as 3 points. In Journalism, Purchasing & Supply, Pensions Management, Printing, Real estate management, motor mechanics, electrical engineering and fabrication polytechnic graduates have outdone their university counterparts in these areas.

    • huku

      Its in Civil & Mechanical Engineering dibango where there is that clear distinction between a Technician and a Engineer. For us in the field we know that the Technician is the specialist while the Engineer is head of Section or put blatantly An Administrator with no hands expertise but bookish theories. We taught many Engineers before we became Engineers

  • dibango

    the fact that one does not hold a qualification in that area does not mean he can not do better. Guvamatanga is heading barclays without a known formal banking qualification. Nyambirai headed TN Financial holdings with a law qualification. Biti did exceptionally well as Finance Minister without a known financial qualification.

    • Mambare

      Dibango you pre-emptied my line of thinking. This Taivavashe guy is a real genius in the mould of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft founders who did not have formal qualifications in their organisations’ key result areas but nevertheless went on to create technological giants. Otherwise this guy is kilometres ahead of those with incredible paper qualifications

    • Multiple Eargasms

      Crazy! if someone came to you and said I am going to fly the plane but I dont have a pilot licence would you still go ahead and board the plane.Little knowledge is very dangerous.Dont you know that 60% of banking and Finance involves compliance and legal issues.In It they are programmers,engineers,designers,analysts and operators.Your comparison is crazy.

    • Rwatida Makuwe

      Indeed Dibango do not say the end justified the means, when the means is wrong! My friend Multiple Eargasms says it all. There is a difference between a leader and an expert remember. All these people you mentioned here are/were leaders who had team members who are/were experts. This position of Database Administrator/Analyst is not a leadership position, please be informed accordingly.

  • Prosper Chinamhora


    • Jotham

      What are you laughing at?. This issue has the potential to destroy many scholars.

      • Drix5

        & who made you the class monitor??? Ibvaaaa

        • Jotham

          Why do you write as if you are not concerned

  • Proper ICT

    Whilst his ability to come with a “working system” (Given he is the only one who can run it) can be recommended, the dangers of the way the system is being run are too many if not already happening. He could manipulate the system, the system might actually be processing erroneous results. If the system malfunctions given he is the only one operating it, there should be ,measures followed for the restore and integrity of the data. An efficient system does not need an IT person to run it which makes me think that it uses too many work-arounds to achieve results. That used to happen with old technologies not with user friendly systems these days. IT people are only required in times of issues or challenges. Hexco has to sort this out because credible results have to come from a system with standards and proper audit. We Zimbabweans have a serious problem with principles, if a tender process was supposed to be followed then why wasnt it?

  • zviro zvese

    All those comparing the Likes of Biti, Nyambirai etc with this Taivavashe are very wrong in all ways. This Taivavashe is not qualified for doing anything close to setting up a database of a Nation with results of students. There are irregularities with his database e.g deploying the database on a public network which is the internet thereby risking it being hacked by those who would be interested in doing so. The guy i bet just used a wizard to setup this database therefore no need to give kudos to this guy as he did not do anything other than just clicking next and wala the database was setup. How can you praise someone who goes around the country with a database full of information about students results on a memory stick or CD. Truth be said, someone high up the profile rankings in the ministry did not do their job correctly. Its either this guy was promoted as a favour and word making the circles is that the Permanent Secretary is the one who has every say in anything that happens at the ministry prior to Dr Olivia Muchena’s arrival. All daggers out for the perm sec if the ministry is going to be revamped. A little birdy also told me the perm sec abuses his post as he gets to misuse the ministry’s properties e.g He is said to take tractors and other vehicles for his own use at his farm from institutions, and later on uses his powers to sell to those same institutions his wares at a price he determines himself. Delivery of those goods is also done by the institutions’ vehicles and the manpower is sometimes from those very institutions therefore he doesnt accrue any expenses at all. Now Taivavashe being the perm sec’s sidekick is immune from any accusations. So we can say all that we want nothing is going to be done about this issue, only when things fall apart will we see action being done and some people unfortunately are going to be sacrificial lambs inorder to cover tracks of their wrong doing.

  • Shon

    We have many people with degrees but have brought the country to its knees. What surprises me most is that the people who have transformed the IT world have no professional qualifications at all for the technology they have brought to the world. Personally i never studied IT,but i am loaded with IT projects and designs i always give my IT friends to work on,they are all amazed how i come up with such an ideas. Zim is full of people who study study study, yet when you give them the real work they don’t do anything at all. That one of my IT friends taught me to repair laptops and desktops, up to now he always say many of my colleagues i studied with at Uni they don’t even know how to perform simple computer servicing and checkings but these are the people who are adding stats to the economy as unemployed computer scientists. High time our education curriculum changes.

  • rukudzo

    I have a problem here. If it was some guy from Europe, the guys who carried out the investigations would have been reaching “orgasm” praising this muzungu guy saying we have seen an examination messiah. But because this one is one of us “muherehere”, you have no confidence in him. Pave ne PhD (Pull him Down)syndrome. Lets support each other. If there are any issues lets suggest corrective measures.