The Mzimba South District Education Manager’s (DEMs) office has come under fire from the Mzimba District Education Network (MZIDEN) for allegedly sourcing funds from the Zonal Improvement Grant (ZIG) towards repairing of a vehicle belonging to the district education office.
In a statement MZIDEN questioned why the DEMs office sourced funds from ZIG for repairing its vehicle instead of using funds the district office receive for Other Recurrent Transactions (ORT).
According to a statement, between November and December 2017, the DEMs office directed all the 25 zonal Primary Education Advisors (PEAs) to contribute MK200, 000 each from the ZIG for repairing of the three tonner lorry.
The lorry had been grounded for the past one and half year taking advantage of the arrears which were accumulated by not being deposited in time after the financial year had elapsed and only to be deposited later along with the 2016/17 allocations.
As of December 20, 2017, 23 zones had already deposited the money at NBS Bank account belonging to Mzimba South District Education office amounting to MK4.6 million and only two zones had not yet deposited but were expected to do so before the Christmas holiday.
By February 2018, according to the statement MZIDEN had confirmed that the remaining two zones had also deposited the remaining MK400, 000 to increase the figure to MK5 million as per the DEMs target.
“We find the conduct of the DEMs office over this issue very unfortunate and uncalled for in as far as financial discipline and procedures are concerned. Their conduct leaves a lot of questions to be answered by them,” Chairperson of the network Teckson Amadu told journalists.
“The network fail to understand how possible a 3 tonner vehicle pegged at MK5-MK7 million as sources from other companies reveals, might develop a fault that could accumulate MK5 million taxpayers’ money to repair,” he said.
Amadu said while they understand that there is a mobility challenge at the DEMs office in the absence of this vehicle, the channel taken to address the problem was not good as the ZIG money has to be used for activities at zonal level.
“We therefore demand that the MK5 million be paid back to respective zonal accounts as the money was forcefully and fraudulently obtained and this has to be done within 14 working days,” Amadu said.
He added, “Failure to repay the money, the network shall consider mobilizing all CSOs in the district to mobilize parents, learners and other school governance structures to stage a mass demonstration towards the DEMs office to share our grievances.
The network shall also consider a court case against all zonal chairs, PEAs and all controlling officers as shall be advised by our lawyers and we shall also ask the ACB to intervene in probing as we suspect abuse of office in the manner the funds were obtained.”
However, the District Commissioner for Mzimba Thomas Chirwa dismissed allegations leveled against the DEMs office in an interview with Capital FM.
“When I heard about this I invited the DEM to find out what really happened and what he said was that there was a meeting between the DEM and PEAs where they were discussing about the dwindling education standards in the district and how they can improve it,” Chirwa said.
“It was during the discussions that PEAs raised a concern that the DEMs office does not assist them when it comes to transfers and the response from the DEM was that this was the case as the vehicle that can be used for transferring teachers is grounded and that is when PEAs voluntarily suggested to contribute the said amount from the ZIG as it has a component of repairing and in all these the DEM was just facilitating,” he said.
Chirwa added, “The DEM did not make a directive so today for some PEAs to go to MZIDEN and say the DEM made a directive, those are just disgruntled members that are aiming at tarnishing the image of the DEM.”
Chirwa said all the money are yet to be used as when the money was deposited it was deposited into a savings account and he advised the DEM to open a current account and transfer the money as it could have been difficult to ensure transparency using the savings account and currently all the cash are in the current account.
“The vehicle in question developed a fault that require engine overhaul and quotations were sourced from Toyota Malawi and CFAO and the process of procuring the new engine was about to start but with what has transpired I have stopped the process and I would like to sit down with the PEAs and if some say they are not happy all the money will be returned,” Chirwa said.