Mugabe’s scholarship must be under Mudenge’s Ministry

Posted on January 26, 2011 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport

 

www.zimtelegraph.com -

The treasury funded Presidential Scholarship in Zimbabwe is currently run by an Executive Director, Chris Mushowe outside Mudenge’s ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education (MoHTE). The selection of students to benefit through the scholarship is done by Manicaland Governor Chris Mushowe; the MoHTE only coming in during financing of the programme.

The treasury funded Presidential Scholarship in Zimbabwe is currently run by an Executive Director, Chris Mushowe outside Mudenge’s ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education (MoHTE). The selection of students to benefit through the scholarship is done by Manicaland Governor Chris Mushowe; the MoHTE only coming in during financing of the programme.

In the past the selection was done by governors in all provinces, not one particular province as is the case now while the ministry used to monitor the performance of students, visit them and have documentation on their performance levels. All these functions are now being executed solely by the Executive Director.

Minister Mudenge may not come out in the open in protest against having the scholarship funded by his ministry being operated externally, however it is an anomaly that needs to be dealt with at government level. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has in the recent past raised this irregularity in its second report to Parliament of Zimbabwe titled “The fee structure, the implementation of the cadetship support scheme and the provision of the scholarship programmes in institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe”. Expectedly the discussions around the presidential scholrship within ZANU PF and in Mudenge’s ministry are likely to be done behind closed doors in fear of retribution.

There are allegations of lack of transparency in the manner the scholarship is being administered. Such lack of transparency has fuelled speculation and suspicion on the criteria used to select beneficiaries. An incident that took place in South Africa where 12 students were withdrawn from the scholarship on allegations of having participated in MDC campus meetings confirmed long held suspicions that the scholarship was run on partisan basis yet it is being funded from the treasury by tax payers’ monies. There are also allegations that beneficiaries from the scholarship are mainly not only from ZANU PF but also mainly from two provinces Manicaland and Mashonaland West. Further allegations are that it is mainly relatives of ZANU PF top brass that have had an unhindered access to the scholarship. It is also suspected that the other category of beneficiaries have been army personnel loyal to ZANU PF.  To dispel these allegations the Manicaland Governor Mushowe must come out clean by making public the criterion that is used for selection of beneficiaries.

Actors in Zimbabwe’s tertiary education sector have also raised eyebrows on the amount of funds spent on the scholarship at the expense of support from the treasury given to students studying locally. There is no comprehensive financial support for local students from February 2006 when the scrapping of students’ loans was announced. The cadetship scheme just like the presidential scholarship has been criticized for its partisan nature, bonding of students and lack of transparency. Some of the clauses in the cadetship Memorandum of Understanding have scared away students. The clauses stipulate that students are required to pay mandatory fees which are beyond the reach of many. Further students out of their own will and consent, must accept to be bonded for a period equal to the duration of the period they were engaged as cadets. During such bonding students are expected to serve their country through any form of employment anywhere in Zimbabwe while the certificate of results or qualification is withheld at the institution. Students who wish to work in another country shall remit one third of their salary in foreign currency during the bonding period. There is no provision for repayment of any part of the cadetship funds or buying out the bonding in order to obtain one’s certificate/diploma or degree. There are suggestions to do away with the presidential scholarship and the resources to be channeled towards bringing back the student loan/grant facility.

The Student Solidarity Trust urges Minister Mudenge and parliament of Zimbabwe to push for the scholarship to be administered under the MoHTE. The Trust also calls for transparency in the manner in which the whole scholarship is run, in particular the selection of students who participate in the scholarship. The Governor of Manicaland is also being challenged to come clean and dispel suspicions of the scholarship being run on regional and partisan nature.

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