Maputo — Nampula (Mozambique), 15 Jul (AIM) - In the two most populous Mozambican provinces, Nampula and Zambezia, the Ministry of Economy and Finance is investigating the illicit payment of overtime to teachers for periods when the schools were closed.
In Zambezia, the extra payments amounted to 23 million meticais (about 328,000 US dollars), and in Nampula to 17 million meticais. The provincial governments have been given 15 days, counted as from 6 July, to explain why these payments were made.
The payments cover overtime and second shifts for the first six months of the year. But the Ministry of Economy and Finance points out there could have been no overtime and no second shifts because the schools were closed for most of this period.
In January the school year had not begun, and so pupils were still on holiday, and in late March the government ordered the closure of all schools, in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus. April, May and June were the first three months of the state of emergency. No schools were open, no classes were given and so the question of overtime did not arise.
What appears to have been a major fraud was detected when the Ministry's National Directorate of Public Accounts checked the wage sheets, and found the illicit payments.
The Nampula provincial governor, Manuel Rodrigues, confirmed that the provincial government had indeed received a note from the Ministry demanding an explanation. "The Provincial Directorate of Economy and Finance is now undertaking investigations to clear up definitively what happened", he said, "because there is no justification for these payments in a period when the teachers were not at work".
In Zambezia, the director of the provincial economy and finance services, Lucas Jackson, told reporters his department is working to clarify the circumstances under which teachers were paid for overtime that never happened.
"It's premature to give details about the matter, since there's a team on the ground gathering data seeking to ascertain the circumstances under which these payments were made", he said.
Jackson added that the undue payments happened in the districts, under the decentralisation of wage management down to the local governments.