The Auditor General says the Ministry of Higher Education paid tuition and meal allowances to 543 people who were not registered by UNZA and CBU.
Meanwhile, over 8,000 UNZA students have been fighting to get their accommodation and project allowances after being left out last academic year.
According to the Auditor General’s report for the year ended 2016, the Ministry of Higher Education spent K8,521,629 on people who were not students.
“There were forty one (41) students with tuition and accommodation fees in amounts totalling K722,465 who were not registered by CBU and not screened by Bursaries Committee but were included on the Universities bill… During the period under review, the Ministry was invoiced amounts totalling K171,582,250 in respect of accommodation and tuition fees for ten thousand seven hundred and seventy eight (10,778) sponsored students at the University of Zambia for the 2015/2016 academic year. Although the University invoiced the Ministry for ten thousand seven hundred and seventy eight (10,778) students, the students’ database at the Higher Education Loans and Scholarship Board showed that there were ten thousand three hundred and seventy two (10,372) registered students who were eligible for sponsorship,” read the Auditor General’s report.
“However, the Ministry was not reconciling the invoices from the University with its database of students eligible for sponsorship
Consequently, the Ministry paid the University amounts totalling K7,799,164 in respect of five hundred and forty (540) students who were not eligible for sponsorship as they were not registered by the University.”
Meanwhile, the ministry failed to account for K34,626,882.
“During the period under review, the Ministry was invoiced amounts totalling K130,522,585 in addition to the brought forward amount of K23,028,591 in respect of accommodation and tuition fees for six thousand nine hundred and nine (6,909) sponsored students at the Copperbelt University. According to the Copperbelt University invoice summary, amounts totalling K144,018,381 were paid during the period under review leaving a balance of K9,532,794 from the total accrued amount. However, the IFMIS Ledger at the Ministry of Higher Education showed that only amounts totalling K109,391,499 were paid to the Copperbelt University in respect of tuition and accommodation. As at 31st July 2017, the variance of K34,626,882 between the payments showing on the ledger and the receipts reflected from the invoice had not been reconciled,” read the report.
Meanwhile, over 8,000 students have not yet received their accommodation and project allowances for the last academic year.
Some of the affected students who sought anonymity lamented that it seemed Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo was not concerned about their plight.
“We were shocked to hear the minister telling Parliament that government does not owe any student. About 8,000 of us have been making efforts to get our money for accommodation but up to now nothing is happening. We really need your help to get this information out there. Some of us depend on this same money to survive. It is not much but at least it pushes us and we are scared that if this is not rectified in good time, then we might be permanently off the payroll,” said one of the students.
“UNZASU is also aware about this but maybe it is because most of them are graduating now or what, but they do not want to speak and push for us. We have a crisis.”