Rent Scandal Haunts Lupane University
14 March 2022
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By A Correspondent- In  yet another scandal the top management at Lupane State University is reportedly milking the higher learning institution through paying sick money in rentals for the properties they are using which range from ZWL$50 to ZWL$300 per month.

Indications by internal sources are that staff residing in the staff quarters are paying ZWL$75 per month, while those in the halls of residence are paying ZWL$50.

“The Vice-Chancellor ( Pardon Kuipa) who stays in a three-bedroomed air-conditioned house is paying ZWL$300 per month, including electricity and water. The Vice-Chancellor does the issuance of accommodation, and his close associates get issued ahead of more deserving individuals,” said an insider.

The Insiders concluded that proximity to the Vice-Chancellor or ceding to his demands is a weapon to unlock access to resources. They noted that procedures are applied to perceived enemies and those who deny the Vice-Chancellor, for example, women who refuse to entertain his sexual advances.

“Some staff members reside in University residences and have not paid any cent, nor electricity and water bills and they are protected by the Vice-chancellor. This is sad as the lowest-paid workers have to pay for rented accommodation almost equivalent to their salaries. It has emerged that when there were suggestions to have the rentals reviewed in 2020 through the Finance Committee, the Vice-Chancellor became furious and accused some committee members of insubordination and refused to have the rentals reviewed,” said insider.

“The meeting was adjourned as there was tension in the meeting since the Vice-Chancellor refused an upward review. He wanted to continue paying ZWL$300 in his allocated house, where some of his two lovers fought after a clash. Reliable sources revealed that after the meeting, the Vice-Chancellor wrote to the Chairman of Council and the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, citing that he wanted to set an example with the Finance member, who had tabled a paper on rental review. Disciplinary processes were set on 18 December 2020, which never yielded any results because it was procedural to review rentals.”

Insiders noted that one of the council member who was part of the hearing, was immediately removed from the LSU council unceremoniously as he was viewed as a threat by the Vice-Chancellor.

The insiders said this is after he had challenged the unprofessional behaviour of the Vice-Chancellor and brought the meeting to a halt.

“Some highlighted that this behaviour was not surprising as the Vice-Chancellor refused to have the sale price of his contractual reviewed and paid less than an equivalent of US$200 for an SUV, which the institution bought for over US$85 000. Since 2020 the rentals have not been reviewed in any committee as the issue resulted in the Finance member facing disciplinary for reviewing rentals and the removal of one member for setting the record straight,” said the insider.

“Insiders are concerned that institutional resources are being milked by external people who will leave the institution after the expiry of their contracts and leave the place ruined and desolate. Others noted the construction of sub-standard infrastructure like offices that were constructed from precast material whose costs were astronomical as a ploy to underdeveloped the region.

The insiders said since 2020, the Vice-Chancellor has snubbed recommendations to align rentals with the cost of services for deliberations by the Council. He will then remove all agenda items that expose him. Governance systems have since collapsed, and others lamented that he has no conscience.

“He even refused the audit report that was conducted concerning the nepotism of employing her daughter Florence as the sole candidate to be presented to the Council. Up-to-date, the report was never presented to Council. The University can not follow its own procedures, but corruption and scandals are swept under the carpet, and those who practice it are rewarded. Insiders commented that one staff member who once went into the University’s results system and changed his wife’s marks was promoted and now functions as a pseudo-Pro-Vice-Chancellor,” they said.  

Indications are that it has emerged that the Vice-Chancellor has power over the LSU Council as those that challenge him are removed from Council. Internal sources revealed that another Council member who was an Engineer was also removed from the Council as she demanded that the perpetual sexual harassment at LSU be investigated.

Workers Council has since written to the Chairman of Council requesting to know why senior management was paying rentals in ZWL$ yet staff members are paying rentals in US$ ranging from US$30 to US$50 where there is electricity while those that reside where there is no electricity are paying rentals ranging from US$15 to US$20.

“It’s shocking to note that top management, including the Vice-Chancellor’s Personal Assistant and the Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor who are given a housing allowance, which is a percentage of their basic salary which increases as and when there is a salary review, and they are graded under directly involved and are paying rentals ranging from ZWL$50 bond to ZWL$300,” the insider said.

 Insiders lamented how top management with housing allowances twice or thrice civil servants’ salaries would pay about a dollar per month while the least paid workers pay rentals equivalent to their monthly salaries. Some lamented that rentals that management pays cannot buy a sweet.

They said student accommodation is periodically adjusted while rentals of top management make no economic sense or logic. Others scoffed, saying such amounts cannot buy a loll pop sweet, that is syphoning potential income to the institution.

“This is of great concern to the staff welfare as no one cares about staff welfare. In some meetings with staff, the Vice-Chancellor was quoted saying he did not care where the staff stayed, even on a tree and under the bridge; all he wanted was to see staff at work. This has resulted in low staff morale, and some have questioned his leadership and professionalism,” said the insider.

 “One wonders who will be liable for paying penalties and interest towards rentals when ZIMRA get to know of such happenings at LSU.”

LSU spokesperson Zwelithini Dlamini said he was on the road to Lupane and promised to check with the registrar after the parliamentary portfolio on Higher and Tertiary meeting.