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BSPZ Chiredzi saga deepens

TONDERAI SAHARO

The construction of a multi million dollar Better Schools Programme (BSPZ)  building in Chiredzi is shrouded in controversy amid revelations of massive looting of the institution’s resources.

An investigation by this publication has pointed to shoddy and underhand dealings coupled by financial mismanagement at the institution.

Several school heads in Chiredzi district who contribute money to the program raised red flags over allegations of criminal abuse of office which came as a result of an alleged unholy alliance by two senior members in Chiredzi BSPZ, the former Chiredzi District Schools Inspector, Patronela Nyangwe and the BSPZ accountant, Ottilia Nehohwa

Nyangwe was recently promoted to a Director of Education Services and is now based at Masvingo Provincial Education Director’s office.

Stakeholders have called for a forensic audit to be done over the construction of the multi million dollar building which is near completion and will unearth the rot at BSPZ Chiredzi accounts department.

Several malpractices have been noted and the Police should quickly move in and bring the culprits to book.

Sources said the alliance between the two officials forced BSPZ procurement chairperson, one Mudawarima to cease executing her duties in protest over the way business was being conducted.    

The building, which is almost complete, was not inspected by officials in the Ministry of Public Works and sources added that the building is already showing signs of structural defects in the roof, putting the lives of staff members at risk.

What raises more eyebrows according to the investigations is the procurement of building materials.

Allegations are that the former DSI and her accomplice used a company known as Podnet which is allegedly owned by Nyangwe’s husband to supply material and pocketed thousands of dollars without going to tender.

The company allegedly supplied glazing material, tiling and roofing material.

“The two allegedly had a list of about six companies that they engaged to supply all building material and anything that BSPZ needed.

“They have direct control over these companies,” added one source.

So rife was the syndicate’s shenanigans that they even ordered schools that would have benefited from a UNICEF funded Schools Improvement Grant (SIG) to purchase from the six companies

“There is one company that even drilled 28 boreholes under SIG for schools in Chiredzi, if a school head refuses to buy from the companies, the accountant would allegedly refuse to sign acquittal forms,” said another source.

 Some school heads are also questioning what happened to the US$15 000 that the two paid to a local bank (name supplied) while applying for a loan in October last year.

“We agreed to apply for a loan with the bank and we were told that the bank is willing to give us the money but they indicated that we must pay US$15 000 for the loan to be processed and approved.

“Most of the heads were against the idea of paying while arguing that the bank should simply recover its money when the loan is approved, however the two went on to pay the bank and up to now that loan has not been processed,” said one source.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the issue in Chiredzi district might be bad blood between the newly promoted director and some school heads.

“Some of the issues might be people who are after tarnishing the newly appointed director’s reputation,” he told the Midweek Watch.

Both Nyangwe and Nehohwa refused to entertain questions from this publication by the time of posting the story. 

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