BY VENERANDA LANGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa was on Friday last week grilled over corruption at schools and the sending away of school children who fail to pay fees, as well as withholding of their results.
This happened at the anti-corruption event organised by the African Parliamentarians Network against Corruption (APNAC), in conjunction with Zacc and the Transparency International Zimbabwe to commemorate the Anti-Corruption Day symposium last Friday.
The issue was raised by the Speaker of the Junior Parliament, Christopher Mutasa, who said there is corruption in the country’s education sector.
“After the Grade 7 results came out, most parents were unable to get places at schools because of high fees, and those who had not fully paid fees for the previous term were denied results,” he said.
“However, there is an education policy in this country that if a child cannot afford to pay fees, they must not be sent away from school and schools cannot withhold results from them, but all these policies are not being implemented.”
The Speaker of the Child Parliament said, as youths, they feel such policy inconsistences must be resolved because they were the leaders of tomorrow and education was important for their
“We need to revisit these policies because it seems we just have them on paper and there is lack of implementation,” he said.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba also told the President that another form of corruption which was affecting children was failure to access birth certificates, whereby some guardians are asked to pay bribes in order to get the documents.
“It means that children from marginalised families cannot get identity documents,” Shumba said.
In his response, Mnangagwa maintained that Zimbabwe still had the best education despite the problems experienced by parents and school
He endorsed the fees policy, saying parents must pay fees for their school children, but acknowledged that the socio-economic environment prevailing in the country was to blame for parents’ failure to meet their obligations.
“You have to pay fees, but the concerns that you have raised are that children are being denied certificates because they failed to pay school fees. We have policies and the challenge is that government must find ways to assist those that are unable to comply with these fees policies,” Mnangagwa said.
“The policy is correct, but it is the socio-economic environment which is making families unable to pay fees. However, government has come up with policies such as the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) as part of the safety nets to assist disadvantaged children. We have supported more than 3 million kids through BEAM and this year we increased the BEAM budget to support poor kids.”
He said if there are policies that are not implemented by the government bureaucrats, then Zimbabweans were free to report the issues to him.
“I am a listening President and if you feel that certain policies are not being implemented, then you must inform me. The weaknesses of government may be as a result of ministers that are not doing their job. We are supposed to serve our people,” the President said.
Mnangagwa said if government was not effective, then there was a risk of being voted out, adding that he was still interested in ruling.
“We are supposed to service our people. Who wants to be voted out? I want to make sure that we do things well so that we continue ruling,” he said.