Schools authorities blow millions

Sunday Mail Reporter
Several schools could have been prejudiced of millions of dollars through over invoicing purchases, flouting tender procedures and unsanctioned vehicle buying sprees. The Sunday Mail has gathered that in the past three years, about 6 000 schools were given the go ahead by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to purchase buses and vehicles at a total cost of nearly US$1 billion.

A brand new bus cost an average US$150 000.

Most schools have been on a buying spree of vehicles with parents complaining that the activities were being done at the expense of actual teaching of pupils. Last year, a Government audit revealed that more than $1,2 billion in levies was circulating in Government and mission schools annually with allegations that a huge chunk was being abused by school authorities.

According to a latest internal audit report in possession of The Sunday Mail, most schools that bought buses over the last few years either inflated the invoices or did not follow SPB regulations.

“Procurement procedures were not followed during the bus purchases.

“There were violations of the Procurement Act which requires that all purchases of between $10 000 and $500 000 should follow tender procedures,” reads part of the internal audit at a school in Harare.

SPB acting principal officer Mr Samson Mutanhaurwa last week told this paper that AVM Africa, Deven Engineering and FAW were approved to supply buses to schools.

Other dealers that have been approved include Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries and Quest Motor Corporation.

Mr Mutanhaurwa confirmed that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education requested the SPB to supply 6 000 buses to schools as and when they were needed.

“The secretary for Primary and Secondary Education submitted a formal tender to identify a contractor for the supply and delivery of approximately 6 000 buses to schools on an as and when required basis,” he said.

The audits also revealed that they were irregularities in the purchases as three quotations were not sought before the purchase of a bus.

Some of the quotations which were available, the audits revealed, were outdated.

“In another cases total disregard of the laid down procedures, a school purchased a bus without an official purchase order, while the school authorities bought from another company which was not approved by parents.

“The audit has found that some schools did not purchase the buses from a recommended dealer and got it from a middle person at a mark-up,” reas part of the report.

Previous audits have shown that some school authorities have been duplicating receipt books as cover to lay their hands on school levies. Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora told The Sunday Mail that; “such flagrant fraud and total disregard of laid down procedures informed Government to consider removing cash the control from SDAs.”

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