Assisi school authorities, parents cross swords

The parents have also flagged an inexplicable break-in at the school as well as the removal of the School Development Committee (SDC) members from office before their term ended.

DAGGERS have been drawn between parents with children attending St Francis of Assisi High School in Chivhu and the school authorities over suspected shady deals.

The parents have also flagged an inexplicable break-in at the school as well as the removal of the School Development Committee (SDC) members from office before their term ended.

To make matters worse, a school bank account was allegedly changed while the fights were ongoing, NewsDay has heard.

The parents allege that the school applied for a loan in June without the knowledge of the parents or SDC members and the matter came to light when the school sought the SDC chairman’s signature.

“They (school and SDC) clashed, and we understand the matter only got settled when the SDC told the authorities to include them in any activity that concerns levies paid by parents,” a parent said.

“The two parties clashed again after the loan had been processed and credited into the school account. A vehicle was purchased, and we understand that is when the SDC sought to see how much it was purchased for, the authorities were not forthcoming. No one in the SDC was in the procurement committee.”

That was to ignite a chain of other events at the school, including the dissolution of the SDC whose term of office was set to end in October next year.

The Kudzanayi Chawira-chaired committee was elected in October 2022.

The authorities allegedly convened an annual general meeting on July 1 in Harare to elect a new SDC.

Assisi is run by the Catholic Church through the Harare Diocese.

However, parents reportedly thwarted the move by retaining the old members.

“After seeing that they had failed in their mission to have pliant board members, the authorities relieved SDC clerk Mahachi of her duties,” a source said.

“That was an unfair dismissal. Mahachi’s contract runs until October 2024. She has a child who needs constant attention, which makes her situation very sad.”

As the fights continued, with the SDC pushing for transparency in the acquisition of a motor vehicle, thieves broke into the school administration block on October 5 this year stealing the administrator’s laptop.

A notice sent to parents read: “Sad news:- Armed robbers at Assisi on the night of 05-10-23. Armed men approached the school security guards on duty, assaulted them and force-marched them to the school office. More to follow, but the school office was broken into and safe blown. We shall get full details tomorrow.”

However, the parents have described the alleged break-in as suspicious.

“Usually, thieves break in at the beginning of school terms when parents will be paying fees and levies. Why would someone risk it when there is no money at the school at this time of the year?” another parent said.

“Another thing that made everything suspicious was the closing of the old levy account and opening of a new one without initially informing the parents.”

In an undated notice to parents, acting head Patrick Mangara, advised that: “All practical fees and levies are payable through St Francis of Assisi High BancABC account 1292910602013.”

In another undated letter to parents, Mangara wrote: “Please be advised that we have opened a new bank account for practicals and levies deposits. We have closed the BancABC account ... (new account is) CBZ ... 02020486880034 (Chivhu branch).”

Chawira refused to speak to NewsDay and hung up calls on his mobile phone.

Mangara also refused to be drawn into discussing the matter, referring NewsDay to Chikomba district schools inspector Emmanuel Kwenda, who said he was busy with the Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations.

“For now, I am focused on the examinations, which is a national duty. There is a new system to make sure examination papers do not leak, so I am kept on my toes so that the examination papers are secure,” he said.

“Just give me a little bit of time until after examinations and then I will respond.”

Brother George Machega of the Diocese of Harare did not respond to questions sent to his phone and neither did he pick calls to his mobile phone.

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