Home » Education » Colaz Hits Back at Mbizvo – Right of Reply

On May 12, 2014 The Herald carried a memorandum by Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Permanent Secretary Dr Washington Mbizvo, in which he responded to allegations of financial impropriety in the ministry, as well as dismissing a raft of other allegations made against him by the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe. Colaz, in exercise of its Right to Reply, has come up with its own memorandum, excerpts of which we publish here. The full text is available online on www.herald.co.zw

In summary, Dr Mbizvo’s memo, among other issues, dwells on:

The payment of “outrageous and disproportionate” allowances to a few Hexco members and himself as the permanent secretary and chair of Hexco

The prejudice to members of Colaz as a result of the above

The resultant insinuation that he is a “corrupt and unethical” public official unsuited to his office-

The permanent secretary blames Colaz, through its general secretary, Mr N. Madovi, for deliberate distortions, omissions and commissions to soil the good name of the head of ministry and its chief accounting officer.

Colaz, therefore, wishes to respond and shed more light.

Mega Allowances

For the record, the general secretary of Colaz (note that he is not the treasurer) did not write about mega allowances in his letter to the Minister (Dr Olivia Muchena).

The source of such information can only be known by the publishers of the story, The Herald.

Lecturers have never been privy to any information regarding allowances for senior government officials that include Hexco officials.

Colaz is, however, chagrined by the chairperson of Hexco’s reference to countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and South Africa regarding remuneration of senior Hexco officials and would be happy if his comparative analysis had taken into account the payment of examiners in the same countries.

We hope Dr Mbizvo was also able to find out how the US$292 salaries earned by college lecturers compare with the countries he alludes to.

Permanent secretaries to our knowledge do not mark examination scripts, while pre-ratification is done in the regions.

The US$5 000 Dr Mbizvo signed for can only have been for ratification of results.

We wish to challenge the permanent secretary to avail evidence that Treasury approved the US$700 000 budget as well as justify how this would militate against the alleged abuse of these funds.

Again the 37 000 student population referred to in the memorandum is too big a number particularly in the MarchApril examinations session. Can the permanent secretary provide this critical empirical evidence to support the claim?

Functions like registration of candidates, verification of candidate numbers, spellings, names of course codes and notification of time tables are done by lecturers and we are only learning through this report that it’s the principals who get paid instead.

Can the permanent secretary justify how it is possible for someone who simply issues meal tickets to get an allowance of US$1 600 (as for November 2013 marking session) and the “logistics officer” of Kwekwe Polytechnic who received US$2 000, while examiners get less than US$100?

Corrupt and unethical conduct

While Colaz takes no pride in denigrating the head of ministry, there are quite a few issues of mis-governance, for which there is empirical evidence.

The wholesale transfer of Colaz national and branch executive members in 2012 is one such example. Such transfers were in contravention of the Ministry’s own HIV and Aids at the Workplace Policy as it separated spouses by in some instances distances of over 600km, causing untold suffering to lecturers and their families.

The Labour Court in Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru ruled against the ministry’s disciplinary action in terms of constitutionality, propriety and natural justice.

The head of ministry has been in contempt of court since October 2012, in spite of the heavy penalty in relocation expenses now running into millions of dollars that the Government will have to pay as ordered by the Labour Court.

The Ministry is heavily litigated, shedding light on how manpower issues are mishandled.

In 2011, the head of ministry unilaterally withdrew a Cabinet approved US$100 monthly retention allowance for lecturers and replaced it with a controversial Production and Pricing Policy (PPP).

Click here to view the Right of Reply by College Lecturers Association to Dr Washington Mbizvo

In September 2011, he misled Government and the public by claiming that the PPP would see college lecturers getting monthly allowances of US$2 000.

The PPP has, however, only benefited college principals, vice principals, HODs and college accountants who are taking home US$2 000 to over YS$10 000 monthly while lecturers get less than US$100.

As a thank you, principals have used graduation and other ceremonies to shower the head of ministry with freebies disguised as tokens of appreciation. These have included heifers, refrigerators, plasma TVs, generators and sheep.

About Colaz

Colaz can provide affidavits in which the permanent secretary avers that the union is not registered resulting in a two-year de facto ban on Colaz activities in colleges.

We are happy that he has seen the light on this matter and that college principals will stop the victimisation of union members.

The contestable fact that Mr Madovi has a “mere HND” as the permanent secretary alleges does not in any way diminish his capacity to perform his elected role as general secretary.

As head of ministry, Dr Mbizvo will know that three-quarters of lecturers in polytechnics have “mere” HNDs, NDs and NCs.

In deriding Mr Madovi over his qualification, he is in effect besmirching the majority of lecturers in polytechnics, including some whom he admits to be patriotic and “. . . professional people of integrity . . .” who have demonstrated “. . . superb workmanship . . .”.

In any event, attaining a doctorate is a matter of priority. President Mugabe has seven earned degrees without necessarily being a doctor in any of them.

More importantly, Dr Mbizvo must be seen to be celebrating the highest qualification offered by polytechnics of which he is the head.

As Colaz, we have always been non-partisan and have been happy to work with Government on quality and governance issues in colleges.

The only impediment has been Dr Mbizvo himself, who has steadfastly closed the door to any form of intercourse with the union notwithstanding our status as a critical stakeholder.

The permanent secretary’s over the top diatribe against Mr Madovi is a clear case of shooting the messenger and not the message and we urge him to rein in his emotions if he is to ably expunge the many allegations of corruption and impropriety being leveled against him.

All he needed to have done was to produce the payment schedules for the now infamous meetings instead of venting his anger on Mr Madovi.

Conclusions

We applaud the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development for instituting a probe into management of Hexco and other governance issues in the colleges sector.

We acknowledge the permanent secretary’s clamour for internal processes of dialogue and urge him to open his doors to all stakeholders, including Colaz.

Colaz takes a dim view of the permanent secretary’s attempt to link it with “. . . opposition politics thinking and behaviour . . .” We are hardworking, loyal citizens of this country, with a passion for a professionally governed manpower development sector, which we believe to be a key factor towards the achievement of the vision and mission of Zim-Asset.

Source : The Herald

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