Uproar over levy directive

Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
School Development Committees in Harare and Chitungwiza have petitioned Government over a Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education directive that levies be deposited into a Social Security Fund, barring parents’ involvement in the management of the same.

In a petition to Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora dated February 16, 2016, signed by SDCs in all Harare and Chitungwiza districts under the Provincial Steering Committee for Schools Development Committees banner, the parents argue that they are key stakeholders who cannot be wished away.

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“The Permanent Secretary indicated that as per the auditors’ recommendations, all levies should be deposited into the SSF account with immediate effect, and all heads who had not done so should do so immediately.

“Parents are key and strategic stakeholders after Government ceded the right to fund schools in 1989. It was parents who took up that right and they did so through instruments gazetted by Government,” reads the petition.

The SDCs argued that since then, parents have made amazing contributions in the development of education countrywide.

“By circumventing the initial process, it is clear that the ministry wants to disenfranchise and marginalise parents from the sector completely,” further reads the petition.

The SDCs said it was improper for officials to be dictatorial as such attitude was detrimental to the administration of education.

“If the ministry continues to demand that levies be deposited into the SSF account, which is governed and controlled through the Audit and Exchequers Act, it means that our education is now parents-funded, in direct contravention of Section 27 subsections (1a and b) and section 75 subsections (1a and b) of the national Constitution which gives the Government the mandate to fund education in this country.”

The SDCs urged Government to consider the implications of having levies deposited into the SSF:

“The following consequences as a result of this pronouncement should be immediately addressed — what are the implications of depositing all these levies into an account, which is directly controlled by Treasury?

“What is going to be the fate of the hundreds of SDC/SDA staff who were under employment of the SDCs?

“Does the respective Act governing the SSF allow non-State/Government officers to sign such bank accounts?” reads part of the petition.

They argued that the decision taken by the ministry seriously compromised access and quality of education in the country.

“We need answers and proof that Government through consultative processes has considered all facets and legal frameworks namely, the Public Finance Management Act (Chapter 22: 19), Audit and Exchequer Act (Chapter 22:03) before giving this directive. Why didn’t the ministry plan for this and conferenced with committees before hand? The question is, who are (the) signatories to the SSF?”

The SDCs threatened legal action if the decision is not reversed.

They further claimed that “those who now want to be charged for signing the SSF account have been the major and main culprits in financial mismanagement and embezzlement and systematically corrupting procurement procedures”.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Silvia Utete Masango yesterday fired vitriol at parents: “But, who are they? They were just appointed and have a one year tenure, so who are these parents? What kind of parents would want their levies abused? Is there any parent who would want to pay so that the levies are abused? Is it not that the parents will be paying for the development of the school? I do not think there would be any parent who would object to actually pay levies and ensure that the levy is actually going to enhance the teaching and learning of their kids,” she said.

Dr Utete Masango said there were cases were SDCs connived with headmasters to swindle schools of thousands of dollars.

She said she did not receive the petition even though papers in The Herald’s possession show that the document reached her office on February 17, 2016.

“I do not know about the petition. We get so many petitions, otherwise we will be disabled. If for every petition we start running and we are superintending a learner population of over four million, you can imagine what that would mean. We would then just put aside what we are supposed to do, which is a priority as we attend to petitions,” said Dr Masango.

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  • Wilson Magaya

    It is tragic that our ministry of education believe that the education of our children is in their hands and not those of the parents. We were way ahead of the pack as a country with an education system that put major responsibility of running the schools in the hands of the parents. This move takes us back and its will cost us immensely as a nation to rebuild the system that we had let evolve. The permanent sectetary needs to take a breather and reflect. This is about people, the people of Zimbabwe and that they have been doing so well managing schools is a wonder. The ministry should play a role that is enabling, and strengthen the system ratger than undo it, we should not be centralizing a system that works so well and could serve as a global example of how parents should run the public schooling system. Lest we forget that as civil servants we work for the people and in the people we trust. Fraud at this level isuch much easier to deal with that withun the beauracracy. This is about the people of Zimbabwe and it is about time we start respecting their wishes. “Nyika Vanhu, Musha Matare” lets think outside the box……

  • haiwawo

    Desperate, grasping government wanting to reach its long fingers into money that parents have paid for their children and over which they should have a right to oversee the use of.

    This government cannot be trusted to take care of public funds and cannot be trusted over these fees seeing as it has from time time dipped into funds they should not have taken.

    This minister has been a disaster to education from the beginning. and is actively working to reverse all the repair the former minister had made to the sector..

    • muvhitori

      its all the same heads are mis using our funds as well hapana mutsvene ipapa

  • http://sn.wikipedia.org Tinovaziva

    Dokora’s ideas are getting worse than Chigwedere’s, this dictator attitude he is exhibiting is detrimental to our education system. You need to understand why things are the way they are before you mess them up. Now he just spouts decrees like an Emperor but like the Emperor without clothes one day he will be found out.

    • tigere obama

      oh oh oh imagine centralising the abuse of funds given our fiscal challenges;now instead of having the problem being isolated to individual schools with deviant administrators we are likely to “gain” the critical mass that is “needed” to bring down the education sector to its knees. Ko STEAM yaendepi and link it with STEM?

  • Nengaz

    The PS is so arrogant, forget that we as parents are very important stakeholders. Toregazve kubhadhara mari yacho tagara tiri kungotenga mabhuku acho so we will stop paying the levies but continue supporting our kids. She shld remember that she was also appointed and does not have a tenure, kanogona kungodzingwawo mangwana, so who is she? Nxaaa

    • gutter poet

      Before taking any idiotic drastic measures like the Ministry is doing lets sit down and talk about these issues and come up with a solution good for all. Dictating about funds which do not belong to the Ministry without parents input is NONSENSE. Let parents have say on this issue as this is their money we are talking about…

  • Simbai

    wish they read these comments!!!maybe they can get the right direction….dictatorial tendencies benefit individuals not the nation!! Consult!!!

  • Baobab today

    What really surprise me is that levies are initiatives of parents after the realisation that government no longer had capacity to fund the education sector fully, now that the SDCs and SDAs are handling more funds than the SSF they want to control these funds through the school Heads who themselves are not saints. Why not just increase monitoring of these SDAs/SDCs through periodic visits by the audit section of the ministry. This permanent secretary is very arrogant, he is forgetting that the funds they purportedly want to control are an initiative of parents themselves whom they want to strip control over their money. At one government school in Vic Falls , the government never built anything from independence up to the 90s , there was only one classroom block built at inception in 1968 by the then Smith regime but there are over 5 classroom blocks built by parents through SDA. We all know they want to divert these funds as with other levies controlled by central government. Most of their School heads who are supposing to be accounting officers at these institutions have no clue of accounts and are milking these funds through t & s and double dipping as they are always on the road running these schools through remote control. Who doesn’t know that some of these Heads are drawing t and s which is far more than their salaries. Mr Secretary be assured one thing parents are going to withhold payment of levies and pay the $10.00 peanuts tuition fees as levies are a self initiative by parents. No one trust government with his or her money. Which levy was ever set by government that was not abused or diverted ? Mr Dokora you are killing the only sector the government had had a resemblance of a succes. Why dont you have a culture of consulting before you come up with a policy shift.

  • Wilson Magaya

    Lets start naming and grt those dealt with. There is no point in keeping this to yourself. Lets be BOLD and deal with the problems rather than have a blanket approach and in process distroy great progress in schools management.

  • Wilson Magaya

    Auditors are accountants. Where are they getting the benchmark for their best practice recommendations? Studies have been done World over.

  • Bathing Problem

    Permanent Secretary Sir/Madam, all these things of SDC/ SDA were formed in the art of legislation and there are some instruments governing those, i do not agree with you on the comment or what you said , its only that you as a ministry you did not do your part in educating these committees in handling of the funds and while your heads are the culprits.