Friday, 24 May 2019

SCHOOL HEAD JAILED OVER TENDER SCAM


A MABVAZUVA Primary School headmaster who violated tenets of good corporate governance by single handedly picking a company to supply an assortment of ICT equipment, instead of going to tender, was last Thursday convicted of criminal abuse of office and jailed for three years.

Benson Matare, (59), was posted to the school by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education three years ago following his demotion from the position of Makoni district deputy schools inspector due a number of alleged scandals. He was found guilty of violating tender procedures and his incarceration has send jitters in the education sector in the district.

He will, however, serve an effective two years behind bars after the magistrate Mr Shane Kubonera suspended one year of the initial sentence on usual conditions. Matare, who was represented by an unnamed Harare-based lawyer, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He has since instructed his lawyer to lodge an appeal against both conviction and sentence at the High Court.

Matare was convicted after a full trial which saw incriminating evidence being adduced from his subordinates and officials from the parent ministry.

Matare awarded a contract worth $42 837, 00 to Lifemark Computers Pvt without following proper tender procedures.

Prosecutor Mr Gift Mtigwa told the court that Matare was supposed to source for three competitive quotations from different suppliers.

He instead hand-picked Lifemark Computers Pvt. In so doing he usurped the powers of the sub-procurement of the School Development Committee (SDC) which is mandated at law to preside over the supplier selection process and compile a comparative schedule justifying its decision.

“Sometime in October 2017, the parents with students enrolled at Mabvazuva Primary school resolved to acquire computer laboratory equipment comprising of 40 modern computers and nine interactive smart boards affixed with projectors.

“Matare, as the headmaster had the mandate to spearhead the process of acquiring the said computer laboratory equipment. Instead of advertising for at least three competitive quotations from different suppliers for the supply of the equipment, since the purchases were above the $10 000 stipulated at law, Matare hand-picked and entered into a contract with Lifemark Computers Pvt to supply the equipment at a cost of $42 837, 00.

“This was contrary or inconsistent with accused’s duties as a public officer. The offence came to light sometime in April 2018 when numerous complaints of misappropriation of funds at the school were received by the Makoni district schools inspector Nathaniel Machini,” said Mr Mtigwa. Manica Post

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