Dozens of unqualified Batswana students are believed to have bribed Ministry of Education officials for government bursaries to study in tertiary institutions in and outside Botswana.
The fraud is understood to have bled the Ministry of Education of millions of Pula and diverted sponsorship funds from deserving candidates.
Information passed to The Sunday Standard revealed that scores of unqualified students who are studying in Botswana and abroad on government bursaries may lose their sponsorship after it emerged that they bribed their way into the Ministry of Education’s bursary fund.
It is understood that government was alerted to the scam after the Department of Buildings and Electrical Service commended the Ministry of Education for sponsoring a lot of students to study architecture. It emerged during investigations by the Ministry that according to its plan, it had not sponsored any students to study architecture.
It is feared that the fraud will also disrupt the government’s manpower planning strategy.
The Minister of Education and Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, told Sunday Standard that “I am not yet sure on the amount of money involved in the fraud; let us just wait for the DCEC to complete its investigations, and then I will be in a better position to tell you the exact amount involved.”
So far 20, officials have been suspended pending investigations. Venson- Moitoi told Sunday Standard that the suspended officers will know in three weeks whether they will be reinstated or interdicted.
She said some of the officers who are on suspension may not be implicated, and that all will be revealed by the ongoing investigations.
“I was forced to suspend the alleged officers so that investigations can be done smoothly while they are not on duty,” she said.
Meanwhile the minister told parliament last week that the investigations on the Department of Tertiary Education have recorded incidents of fraud.
She told the house that the state of affairs necessitated an investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime in 2009.
“I wish to inform the house that the DCEC has recently briefed me on the findings which reflects major weaknesses in the system as well as continued unprofessional practices,” she said.
Venson-Moitoi pointed out that these findings have revealed serious system weaknesses and flaws which in turn create opportunistic environment for manipulation and fraud.
To safeguard government interests, the ministry has ordered that the placement division be shut down and all officers interdicted to allow thorough investigation.