- Residents speak after MDC councillors caught in academic fraud
MDC councillors, currently caught up in an academic fraud storm, were elected “on the strength of sloganeering and being right with the party leadership, and not based on their track records of competence,” Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has said.
An internal audit conducted by Catholic University of Zimbabwe (CUZ) revealed that MDC councillors Kudzai Kadzombe and Denford Ngadziore used dishonesty to gain admission into the institution at CUZ in the Faculty of Commerce, Bachelor of Business Management and IT programme, albeit with fake qualifications.
Insiders say a university worker who allowed them entry through unorthodox means has since been dismissed.
The two MDC councillors have since been advised that their offers have been terminated until they get the basic requirements and seek readmission.
“The entry requirements for one to be a Ward Councillor should be based on merit and not the ability to chant party slogans and praise their party leaders in order to get into positions,” HRT director Precious Shumba told Zim Morning Post.
“Ideally we strongly believe that at least three ordinary levels should be the entry qualifications for one to be considered into elected public office given the amount of work involved in policy making, oversight and facilitation of community development.”
HRT said the lack of a standard criteria to determine who can become a Councillor has created an opportunity for powerful elites in political parties “to manipulate their less educated policymakers by interpreting text for them and guiding them from behind on what policy positions to take and what to be saying in council deliberations.”
HRT noted that nearly all work opportunities in Zimbabwe and entry into higher tertiary institutions require a minimum of five ordinary levels academic qualifications.
“The same criteria should be applied on Councillors and Members of Parliament such that there is a standard to follow and adhere to, thus ensuring that all elected officials have an expected level of understanding to play their roles more effectively and efficiently,” he said.
“These roles cannot be effectively and efficiently undertaken by a person who lacks basic comprehension of written text and issues. While democracy requires that every citizen qualifies to contest and be voted into office, the same democracy promotes meritocracy, where people get into whatever position on the basis of their suitability, competence and experiences and not based on loyalty and proximity to party leadership,” he continued.
HRT said it was important to evaluate the performance of Ngadziore and Kadzombe in terms of their key roles of oversight, representation of the electorate, policymaking and facilitating community development.
“Councillor Kadzombe is the Chairperson of the Environment Management Committee, which is a highly technical committee in terms of its mandate and policy formulation for the City of Harare. If Councillors Kadzombe and Ngadziore so desires to advance themselves, they should not cut corners, but should take the long and painful route of studying to earn their qualifications,” Shumba said.
He added that the HRT has been made aware that some of the Councillors who have enrolled at the Catholic University of Zimbabwe also went through bypassing the minimum entry requirements on the strength of bribing officials at the university.
“The two councillors are not the only ones who are desperately trying to possess degree qualifications, even if they have not yet passed the first hurdle of ordinary levels,” he said.
He added: “The HRT encourages the MDC Alliance not to exert unnecessary pressure on their Councillors to have degrees in order to chair council committees. To the affected Councillors who lack the requisite minimum qualifications to enter university learning, they should persevere and do the right thing without cutting corners. They can join study groups and pursue their dreams without feeling ashamed of their situation, because a lot of other people failed on two or three times, but eventually made it academically.”
The HRT said it also recognises that education alone is not adequate to measure an elected officials’ capacity and performance but stood on the position that government should make it a policy to require minimum academic entry qualifications for one to contest as Ward Councillor.