Uproar over Presidential scholarships

Parents and students from disadvantaged backgrounds have accused the government and organizers of the Presidential Scholarships Scheme of nepotism and corruption, claiming those who qualified to receive the scholarships were sidelined.

Chris Mushowe
Chris Mushowe

Parents who spoke to The Zimbabwean expressed shock over the way in which the whole process was conducted.

“I had a relative who has 20 points at A-level and was very poor. We applied but he could not get the place. He is an orphan who depends on donor funds for his education, the whole process is flawed,” said Hilda Gureri, a concerned guardian.

The scheme has drawn a lot of ire from tax payers and economists who feel that the government should invest in the country’s learning institutions rather than forking out a lot of money on South African universities.

Respected university lecturer and economist, Floyd Kadete, said the government was using a patronage system and not merit.

“This boils down to who you know, the whole system is flawed. We have good universities here,” said Kadete.

A group of 100 scholarship beneficiaries were given a send-off recently by Manicaland Governor Christopher Mushowe. Eye witnesses said it was shocking to note that most students were dropped off at the venue in top-of-the-range cars, a clear testimony that they were not from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Another group of 280 students left last week for South Africa. Mushowe said the 100 were still to secure places at the universities. He said funding problems had seen them recruit less than 600 students nationwide.

“The programme did not receive enough money from the Ministry of Finance this year. We received $3 million instead of $5 million and that is why we didn’t take many students,” he added.

Mushowe said the students were supposed to work for their country for three years after graduation. The Presidential Scholarship Programme was founded in 1995 to give deserving students university education. Each year, the programme, whose patron is President Mugabe, draws students from each district from the country’s 10 provinces.

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