Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council has won an appeal against a High Court decision blocking it from ordering a re-write for the 2017 Ordinary Level English Paper 2, which had leaked resulting in the widespread cheating by candidates who sat for the examination in that paper.
Though the appeal by Zimsec seemed academic considering the fact that affected students have since moved on, it has a strong bearing in future examinations in the event cheating occurs. The examination body had approached the Supreme Court challenging the judgment by the then High Court Judge Justice Loice Matanda Moyo who presided over the matter along with Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa.
The two judges reversed the Zimsec decision to order a rewrite for the 2017 Ordinary Level English Paper 2 saying it was inconsiderate.
They, however, agreed that the court cannot condone criminality as cheating had indeed taken place and confirmed the decision to nullify the results for the English Language Paper 2.
Two parents, Mr Victor Mukomeka and Mr Chingasiyeni Govhati — representing two minor children who wrote their Ordinary Level examinations in 2017— had challenged the decision by the then Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima to nullify the results and filed an urgent chamber application.
In its appeal, Zimsec wanted the Supreme Court set aside the decision refusing it to direct a resit of that examination which had been scheduled February 16, 2018.
Justice Bharat Patel allowed the appeal.
“The application to set aside the first respondent’s decision to have the Ordinary Level English Paper 2 examination retaken be and is hereby dismissed,” he said.
The judge found that Zimsec decision to nullify the results and order a rewrite of the examination, were entirely concordant with the provisions of Section 34(1) of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council Act.
The Section empowers Zimsec to annul the results of any examination which is flawed by a specified irregularity, while the provisions of the Interpretation Act extends that power to address the consequences and exigencies of any such nullification.