Bulawayo proportional representation Member of Parliament (MP), Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, has accused the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) of contempt of Parliament after the country’s public schools examination body repeatedly refused to accede to their requests.
ZIMSEC, which falls under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, has been accused of failing to properly administer public examinations, with exam paper leakages and other irregularities having since become common every year.
Speaking during a Parliament session Tuesday, Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who also the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, said ZIMSEC had repeatedly refused to make presentations before her committee.
“When we asked to engage with ZIMSEC, so that they can come to either make presentations to us as a Committee or where we have written to them to respond to some of the issues that we are raising as a committee, he (ZIMSEC director, Lazarus Nembaware) has constantly refused to do so.”
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the excuse given by the ZIMSEC is that they can only be engaged through the Ministry of Primary and Second Education.
“As you know, with every other parastatal, we do have a right of oversight over them and the last time I had indicated that I may have to be forced to bring in a motion on contempt by ZIMSEC,” she said.
“As late as yesterday (Monday), Mr Speaker Sir, we had written to ZIMSEC so that they can give us the Grade 7 results so that we can use them to analyse as a Committee and to make representations to you as part of the report that we are bringing to the House. I have just received notification from the director right now and he has done exactly what we have indicated that they do all the time.”
She said the examination body indicated it would not give them anything, adding there was no justification for the august House to go through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to access ZIMSEC.
“I think as a Committee, we may and I am now formally bringing contempt of Parliament charges to ZIMSEC particularly the director,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
“Like I am saying to you, it is not the first time. I personally called him (ZIMSEC director) and explained to him that as a committee, when we request for information, they are obliged to come back to us directly.”
She said it was regrettable that ZIMSEC continues to refuse to provide information to them whenever requested.
However, National Assembly speaker, Jacob Mudenda, advised Misihairabwi-Mushonga to also engage ZIMSEC chairperson Eddie Mwenje.
“Unfortunately he (Mwenje) himself as chairperson has not also come back to us when we wrote to him specifically as chairperson to explain to us what the issue is, so we continuously have these rude responses from this gentleman (Nembaware),” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
However, Mudenda still insisted that Mwenje should be engaged on the matter.
“I am trying to bring across the issue of protocol,” said Mudenda.
“The key person here is the chairperson of ZIMSEC; he is the one who must direct you to the director who is the functionary person under the chairman. I think you must write to the chairperson Professor Mwenje and copy that to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and the Permanent Secretary.”