An official from the Office of the President and Cabinet in charge of the Presidential Scholarship scheme has been arrested on allegations of soliciting bribes ranging between $500 and $1,500 from prospective students, who wanted to study under the scheme. Tafadzwa Mafuwu, 35, a senior executive to the director of the Presidential Scholarship, reportedly worked in connivance with Paidamoyo Mwandiyambira, 44, a receptionist at Masaisai Primary school in Westgate, Harare, and the headmistress of Martin Luther King Junior School, Martha Chigama, 57.
Mafuwu allegedly ‘employed’ Mwandiyambira and Chigama who would then scout for potential students, and the trio would share the proceeds. The trio was exposed when some of the students who failed to secure places despite having paid the money raised alarm with the officials.
The three on Friday appeared before Tendai Mahwe charged with bribery. They were released on $200 bail each coupled with some conditions among them, surrendering their passports and reporting once a week to the police.
According to the State, President Robert Mugabe runs a scholarship programme, which is administered by his Office and Cabinet (OPC), to support financially challenged students who would have excelled in their Advanced Level examinations.
The programme benefits students to undertake their degree studies outside the country. Mafuwu’s duties among others included processing of the applications.
Prosecuting, Idah Mateke-Maromo alleges that during the period extending from 2010 to last year, Mafuwu, with an aim of soliciting for bribes from prospective candidates, recruited Mwandiyambira and Chigama.
The two were told to scout for the candidates, the court heard. The trio, the State alleged, agreed to solicit between $500 and $1,500 from each candidate who intended to benefit from the scholarship. They also agreed to share the proceeds equally.
As a result, Mwandiyambira and Chigama approached and solicited various amounts of money from Kudzanai Hwami, Nyasha Mangwiro, Adele Mandiriri, Kudzanai Mutivu, Wadzanai Mahusha, Wadzanai Mutendereki, Charles Nzunga, Tsitsi Moyo, Rumbidzai Sithole and two others identified only as Magutsa and Mautsa.
It is the State’s case that out of the 11 candidates, only Mutivu and Mutendereki benefited from the scheme and were sent to Monash University in South Africa where they attained their degrees.
The offence came to light when Mandiriri who had paid, did not benefit and demanded a refund from the trio. They allegedly became evasive and failed to give her back her money. Upon seeing that they had been duped, Mandiriri’s sister approached the Office of the President and Cabinet, and reported the matter to the officials.
A report was made to police leading to the arrest of the trio. It was not clear how much money they took from the prospective students.