THE Public Service Commission (PSC) has suspended four human resources officers and dismissed one after they allegedly forged signatures of senior government officials to illegally hire teachers. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora told Chronicle yesterday that the five were all from his ministry.
Minister Dokora could not be drawn into revealing the names of the officers, saying he was not in the office. He said the officials were working with PSC officials to manufacture fake letters to approve employment applications by aspiring teachers.
“Four HR officers have been suspended and one has been dismissed. This sends a clear message that the education sector, especially the [Ministry of] Primary and Secondary Education, isn’t a place for those endowed with these kind of tendencies.
“I want to thank the PSC for working in conjunction with officials in my ministry in dealing with this matter,” said Minister Dokora. He said his ministry required honest employees who have the zeal to uplift the education sector in the country. He urged government workers in the education sector not to allow rot to creep into the system.
“This blind spot shouldn’t obscure the generality of officials who diligently perform their duties in an honest and industrious way,” said Minister Dokora.
Sources in the ministry said the five officials were caught after forging signatures of the PSC secretary and the ministry’s permanent secretary in accepting unapproved applications by teachers seeking employment in the ministry.
Last month a PSC official appeared in a Harare court being accused of fraud after he added 31 unapproved names of teachers to a reappointment letter for open-ended contracts. PSC deputy manager, corporate strategy and salaries administrator, Bright Tembo was charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
He connived with four others who have already appeared in court to commit the crime. Tembo allegedly took advantage of his position and intercepted letters of authority for conversion from contract to indefinite conditions of service.
The letters were originated by the PSC’s secretary, Pretty Sunguro. After intercepting the letters Tembo allegedly scanned and manipulated them by adding names of undeserving teachers. He then sent the letters to the concerned ministry for processing, the court heard.
Unknowingly, acting on the scans, the ministry would in turn send the letters to the provincial education directors for actioning. It is alleged that Tembo added 31 unapproved applicants on the letters.
The offence came to light on March 3 this year when a performance audit and inspectorate agency in Manicaland received an anonymous letter. The letter alleged a high rate of corruption and nepotism at Chipinge education human resource personnel and district education officer in recruiting teachers.
Also mentioned in the letter were illegal, unfair and corrupt replacements of reappointed teachers and fake conversion letters by an Education Ministry official, Charity Chitsenga. Investigations unearthed the scam, leading Tembo’s arrest. chronicle