A consultant who was hired by the Ministry of Education to harness their operations is said to be implicated in a multi million pula corruption scam at the ministry. Government officials working at the Department of Student Placement and Welfare are said to have milked government of millions by creating bogus students who were purportedly sponsored by government, and then siphoning the funds off to their personal accounts.
Last week, MoE Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, sent shockwaves throughout the country when she announced that the DSPW had been closed pending further investigations. It also emerged that about 20 officers working at the department are under investigation.
In the latest development, Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime has launched a massive manhunt for the consultant, who was engaged by the MoE a few years ago. It is suspected that the consultant, who had intimate knowledge of the MoE operations, connived with government officials at DPSW and showed them how easily the system can be manipulated. It has also emerged that the said consultant is key to the DCEC investigations as he can expose the extent of the rot at MoE.
DCEC investigations took them to China and Malaysia, where they discovered that the students who were supposed to be sponsored by government at the two countries institutions were actually nonexistent. They also found that some of the students who were on a government sponsorship had performed very badly and did not qualify for government sponsorship in the first place, which raised suspicions that they might have been given the scholarships for a fee.
The DCEC would later take the report to the MoE who, to their dismay, dragged their feet to address the issue.
Sunday Standard investigations have also revealed that the scandal has pitted senior officials at the MoE against each other, with some advocating for a low key internal investigation while others want a name and shame scenario, where both the corrupt government officials and the unqualified students will be dragged to court, prosecuted and made to pay back government money.
The DCEC is said to have assembled a team of investigators who will tour the globe in search of government sponsored students in a bid to ascertain if they exist or whether they qualify for government scholarships.
Venson-Moitoi was on Friday loath to comment on the issue, saying that she does not want to compromise investigations.
She, however, said that she is not aware of any consultant who was hired by her ministry.
“I do not know of any consultant. Remember that I only came to this ministry last year October. I might not be aware of some of the things that happened before I came here,” she said.