US$2m scandal rocks Zimsec

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has been rocked by a US$2 million procurement scandal after an audit revealed that the examinations body overpriced various goods and services and failed to account for particular payments.
The audit established that Zimsec overpriced a Nissan UD truck, which was never delivered.
It was discovered that the examinations body inflated a number of invoices for services and goods.

The invoices amounted to US$60 000 after payments to Mutare Teachers’ College of US$48 088 escalated to US$121 917 under invoice 11635 while payments to Warble Enterprises increased from US$1 135 to US$106 923 under invoice 026975E-79E.

Payments to Chinhoyi University of Technology also jumped from US$10 558 to US$188 320 while the Seke Teachers’ College invoice 026987E was adjusted from a paltry US$10 to US$46 200.
Some of the invoices were understated, resulting in Zimsec losing US$70 222.

According to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, Mrs Mildred Chiri, Zimsec splashed US$1,8 million to some service providers without proper invoices.

Mrs Chiri recommended that Zimsec should put in place adequate controls that can detect such anomalies.
“The standard practice is that goods are received and an invoice submitted which is then paid. Some payments were made without an invoice and, in most cases, well before the services or goods had been received,” reads part of the report.

“As a result, errors were encountered when the service received failed to agree with what was paid for. Inexperienced or unskilled staff could have caused these errors warranting a review of the staff competences existing and taking corrective measures.”

Mrs Chiri said Zimsec’s financial statements could be misstated as a result of the pervasive unsupported expenditure vouchers.

She added that all payments were supposed to be paid after receipt of services and invoices.
It was also unearthed during the audit that Zimsec went to tender for the procurement of a Nissan UD truck which was awarded to a sole bidder —Conduit Investments — for US$130 446.

Zimsec paid at the purchase price on June 2011, but the truck was never delivered.
The audit revealed that the supplier of the truck made several excuses and payment was made without the support of a bank guarantee.

Furthermore, the supplier demanded US$19 000 on top of the tender price, bringing the total payment to US$149 446.

Mrs Chiri recommended that Zimsec recover the US$19 000.
In response, Zimsec management said the council’s finance section has been preparing a reconciliation of the actual invoices issued by service providers and the control sheets to avoid paying services not rendered.

“This system was introduced after it dawned on council that some institutions and service providers were issuing out invoices that included some items of service not quoted for or agreed upon in the main contract document.

“The council shall with immediate effect return all such invoices to the service provider and payments shall only be effected after the correct documentation has been submitted or after both parties have agreed on the amount to be paid.

“It is also hoped that the introduction of the Accounting Procedures Manual will address some of the deficiencies highlighted because it provides basic guidelines and procedures to follow when effecting payment.”

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