BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
NSONGWA Primary School in Dete could be forced to close after parents threatened to withdraw their children in protest against the continued stay of headmistress, Joana Matanga.
Matanga and parents have had several run-ins over the manner in which the former has been running the educational facility, with parents raising red flags over alleged corrupt and maladministration issues.
Last year, the Nsongwa community raised similar charges against the school head, a development that prompted authorities in the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to institute investigations into the manner in which Matanga was running the school.
The investigation panel reportedly found her guilty on almost all the charges levelled against her, but the report is yet to see the light of day.
Matanga was briefly suspended last year, but bounced back at the school under unclear and unexplained circumstances. This, community leaders argue, smacks of nepotism involving some unnamed officials within the Education ministry who they say are the ones protecting Matanga and foisting her on the Nsongwa community.
Community leaders and parents over the weekend said they would withdraw their children from the school to send a message to the authorities that Matanga was no longer wanted at the school.
Nsongwa ward 16 village head Sam Silas Munkombwe told Southern Eye that the parents were fed up and it was time they took action.
“We have tried to be humane and considerate, but it appears no one wants to listen to our concerns. We asked that the school head be transferred long ago because she was abusing our resources and failing to run the school, but no action has been taken up to now,” Munkombwe said.
He added: “Some of these officials are failing us and we think it is high time we grab the bull by the horns. We have resolved that we will soon withdraw our children from the school and leave Matanga with her buildings and see how far she can go.”
Nsongwa Primary School development committee vice-chairperson Sarah Ncube also confirmed the parents’ position to withdraw the children from the school.
“This (children’s withdrawal) is a position concerned parents have unanimously taken because it appears it is the only way their concerns and issues at this school can be attended to,” she said.
“The school head is not listening. We were supposed to hold meetings last year. She did not initiate those meetings because she knew the meetings would expose all the dirty linen she is hiding.
“Even this year before the school opened, Matanga was supposed to meet parents and she has holed herself somewhere and she is becoming increasingly inaccessible and parents are saying they can’t live with a person with such behaviour.”
Information at hand shows that Matanga is expected to appear before a disciplinary committee on Friday to answer to several charges among them maladministration, corruption and forgery.
The parents have threatened to picket at the school to demand transparency in the handling of the matter – a demand that parents say should be paramount when the hearing takes place.
“We know and we are aware that Matanga has relatives who are in high offices within the ministry. All we need is transparency in this matter. Previous investigations have found her guilty of misconduct and this is a hearing which should just seal her fate. She must go elsewhere because she has held us to ransom and delayed development of our children’s learning infrastructure,” a villager, Pius Moyo said.
Matanga was not answering her mobile phone yesterday when contacted for comment.
Matabeleland North provincial education director Jabulani Mpofu yesterday said his office would look into the matter.
“We had not been apprised by our officials on the ground of such a situation. I will dispatch officials to go and find out what the issues are and we will act based on the report,” Mpofu said.