MP questions blame on Matebeleland South school for exam papers leakages; says ZIMSEC using it as scapegoat

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By Leopold Munhende

LEGISLATOR Sipho Mokone has questioned Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council’s (ZIMSEC) move to blame Thokozani Secondary school in Matebeleland South for leakages in last year’s Ordinary Level exams.

Mokone, who is MDC Proportional Representative Member of Parliament said she did not think ZIMSEC papers were leaked from the school but believed it was just being used as a scapegoat so the examination board’s investigations are hastily concluded.

She claimed the issue was being blown out of proportion because the papers are alleged to have leaked from Matebeleland.

Over 5,000 students had their results withdrawn by ZIMSEC after massive leaking was unearthed across the country, in what parliamentarians said was the worst since its inception.

Thokozani Secondary school headmaster Gainmore Muzezewa and a teacher at the institution, Howard Zipore were arrested and are still in remand prison.

Schools such as Mukaro High in Masvingo province, where the bulk of cases were recorded, had entire results withheld by ZIMSEC and later released.

Mokone shared her doubts in Parliament recently while responding to Primary and Secondary Schools Minister Evelyn Ndlovu’s presentation on the matter.

“Are you really sure that these were the leakages that were recorded or the kids from this secondary school are just sacrificial lambs because I do not think these papers actually leaked in Matebeleland South,” said Mokone.

“There is somewhere where they leaked and this issue was blown out of proportion because these papers were discovered in Matebeleland South.

“If these papers actually leaked in Matebeleland South, may you kindly furnish us with the results from Matebeleland South because if these kids from Matebeleland South had papers, Matebeleland South should have performed better in these exams? From what I know and from what I have read, Matebeleland South performed poorly in these exams.”

According to Ndlovu, students at Thokozani Secondary school did not benefit from their daredevil headmaster’s breaking of numerous locks and illegal access to examination material prior to its sitting.

Ndlovu said Muzezewa and his accomplice got access to the examination papers and sold them to a Zvishavane resident.

“Matabeleland South did not benefit from the papers; the papers were stolen at Thokozani then taken to a pharmacy in Zvishavane where they were then distributed; from Zvishavane not from Matabeleland South.  So Matabeleland South did not have access to the paper,” said Ndlovu.

“The majority of the culprits were in the other part of the country from Zvishavane coming this way.  People were arrested but it is the sentence that is weak, that is why I said we need to review the law to make it stiffer so that these people are punished enough to feel the pain. If we review the law and punish these people, then the leaking will stop.”

ZIMSEC’s credibility has been hit hard by a series of leakages that have continued to taint its already battered image.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has since petitioned Parliament on the matter and advised ZIMSEC to make use of new technologies for security and transfer of data.

ARTUZ’s petition which details the history of examination leakages in Zimbabwe blames the institution’s schools ranking system, poor remuneration, use of public transport to transport papers and its infatuation with invigilation rather than security.