THE Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE), a Government organisation which always warns citizens against falling victim to dubious colleges and universities, is in the eye of a storm after it employed a senior manager who had only one O-Level pass and fake academic qualifications.
Florence Chimbumu worked as the ZIMCHE chief operations officer for nearly two years until an internal auditor exposed that she had only one Ordinary Level subject to her name, while her supposed tertiary qualifications from the NUST were completely fake.
The State-owned Herald reports that an internal memorandum circulated at ZIMCHE informing other staff of Chimbumu’s departure was vague and only stated she was no longer on the staff.
“This memo serves to inform that Mrs F Chimbumu is no longer a member of staff of the ZIMCHE.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank her for the contribution that she made to the ZIMCHE and we wish her well in her future endeavours.
“By copy of this memo, may I kindly request the director ICT to disconnect her Outlook account as well as her Microsoft Teams account,” reads the memorandum.
ZIMCHE has since reported the fraud to Borrowdale Police Station under RRB 458 9132/2020 and investigations are underway.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed receiving the report, saying the suspect had not yet been arrested.
“We are currently investigating a case of suspected fraud although the suspect has not yet been picked up,” said Nyathi.
ZIMCHE internal auditor Mr Takwana Mangwende, who noticed the anomalies and verified with ZIMSEC and the Higher Examination Council (HEXCO), was summoned to Borrowdale Police Station to assist with investigations.
Sources at ZIMCHE said Florence Chimbumu’s case came to light when the internal audit department recently asked all staff to submit copies of their academic and professional qualifications.
“The internal auditor, Mr Mangwende, asked all of us to submit copies of our educational and professional certificates for vetting.
“During that exercise, the auditors noticed some anomalies on Chimbumu’s qualifications before sending the Ordinary Level certificate for verification at ZIMSEC.
“Another suspicious HEXCO qualification was also sent for verification and both papers turned out to be fake,” said the source.
A ZIMCHE committee on risk and audit recommended criminal investigations.
Sources said Chimbumu panicked and tendered her resignation letter to ZIMCHE but the human resources department, after consultation with legal experts, went on to suspend her. She wanted to go on leave pending resignation in December this year.
A source at ZIMCHE told the Zimbabwe Voice that Chimbumu’s professional qualifications was a diploma from a professional body as well as a degree from the NUST Business School in Bulawayo. The source added that Chimbumu has also been in the crosshairs of other top ZIMCHE managers for a long time as “even her spellings and grammar left a lot to be desire”.
“Although all senior staff were asked to submit their academic and professional qualifications to the audit team, it was Florence they were after.
“The idea was to ensure she wouldn’t panic. There was a general talk at ZIMCHE that her command of the English language raised questions about her qualifications. Even her spellings and grammar left a lot to be desired,” said the source.
The source added that Chimbumu started working at ZIMCHE around mid-2018.
It could not be immediately ascertained how she came to be employed at ZIMCHE in the first place, amid indications that that issue is now the subject of ongoing police investigations.
Meanwhile, in a dramatic turn of events, Chimbumu finally left the organisation yesterday, according to the Herald.
ZIMCHE chief executive Professor Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo refused to comment on the issue and referred the matter to the organisation’s human resources director Mrs Nyakurerwa.
“Our human resources department will comment on the case. Talk to Mrs Nyakurerwa,” he said.
Mrs Nyakurerwa asked for an email message, which she never responded to.
“I saw your mail but I will forward it to the public relations department,” she said.
The public relations department did not respond to the questions and the director, Mr Jonathan Gandari’s phone went unanswered.
Chimbumu was promoted last year from administrator, in an elevation initiated under the new chief executive Professor Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo’s restructuring exercise.
The recent restructuring saw the recruitment of 11 new managers, creating a management-rich organogram.
The new positions included two chief directors, directors of finance, audit, admin, information and communications technology (ICT) and chief operations officer among other positions in addition to the other managers already in post.
The new appointees assumed duty on January 6, 2020, after being selected in interviews conducted in November last year.
ZIMCHE is an educational council set up by an Act of Parliament and is mandated with promoting and coordinating education provided by institutions of higher education.
The council also regulates the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examinations, academic qualifications and research in institutions of higher education.
ZIMCHE was created through an Act of Parliament Chapter 25:27 which was promulgated in 2006. – Herald