THE Parliamentary Public Organization Accounts Committee (POAC) has formed a probe team comprising three legislators to investigate fraud at Mkwawa University College of Education after discovery of massive theft of money. This come two days after a Loans Board official, Ester Budili was arraigned at Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court for theft of 90m/- through creation of "ghost" students and employees in nine universities. The fraud involved forging of real names of students supposed to receive loans from the Students Loans Board and payment of salaries to non- existent employees on pay- rolls. The legislators picked to probe the fraud at Mkwawa College are Zainabu Kawawa (CCM), Mwibara Kangi Lugola (CCM) and Ali Khamis Seif (CUF). The MPs would probe the link between the university and the Loans Board with regard to the fraud. The investigation might also be extended to other universities. Addressing journalists shortly after meeting with the university management, POAC Chairman Mr Zitto Kabwe said the total amount from the Loans Board paid out to 32 ghost students from the university was 66m/-. Mr Kabwe said the committee has refused to continue with briefing of the report until the investigations were completed, noting that the university management might be called again in Dodoma. Apart from the fraud linking the Loans Board and the university, the committee also questioned payments of salaries to ghost workers as well as illegal procurement. "The current budget for students loans in the country is about 250bn/- and the number of students is increasing, making us wonder if the government can sustain this. Now we cannot sit by and let crooks swindle the government," he admonished. The Committee's Deputy Chairman, Mr Deo Filikunjombe said the list of students' names clearly showed that they had been technically altered. However, what was disturbing is the similarity of the names to the real names of students who received loans. "The registration and index numbers are the same; they have only altered one name of each student on the list," he explained. Relevant Links East Africa Tanzania Legal Affairs Education Mr Kabwe noted that Mkwawa University is leading the pack in submitting fake student names to the Loans Board. The university's governing board was also blasted for awarding tenders without taking into account the lowest evaluation costs. Reading the Controller and Auditor General's (CAG) report, Mr Kabwe noted that goods and services worth 1.2bn/- were bought without observing legal procurement procedures. Another amount totalling 152m/- did not have supporting documents, dating back to 2006/2007. The university's governing board had a hard time responding to the allegations, with one member noting that it was a small problem that the university was working on to rectify. Members of the committee queried whether it was a normal thing to conduct payments without relevant documents, noting that the CAG's reports clearly indicated problems in the procurement process. "The CAG reports tells us clearly that there is a problem in the university's procurement process but the management says it's not a big problem; let them tell us what are these small problems. This issue must be investigated thoroughly, we need to get to the root of the problem," they noted. The university's Principal, Prof Philemon Mushi said the problem noted in the CAG's report is being rectified in current procurement process.