The Sunday News
Peter Matika, Senior Reporter
PLUMTREE High School in Matabeleland South has hit rock bottom with livestock allowed to roam freely, invading sports and hostel grounds.
Once revered and considered the pride and envy of Matabeleland South, the school is now a shadow of its former glory.
Plumtree High, which used to be a boys only institution, was the epitome of every boy’s desire to pursue a high school education.
Sunday News visited the school last week where it witnessed dilapidated classrooms, not to mention hostels and other infrastructure that is on the brink of collapse. The dire situation at the school has resulted in former schoolboys — Old Prunitians (OP)seeking avenues to engage Government to privatise the school.
The idea to privatise the school was mooted in 2013, after some OPs conducted a research and found it possible that they could buy into the school.
Perhaps with the alleged scenario, where some of the monumental school’s buildings are now being used for poultry farming, being the last straw, OPs have requested the Government to immediately look into the situation at the school.
“Automatically this has resulted in a plunge in student enrolment. With good teachers gone, academic performance has suffered. Of course the school was known among many other schools to be one that excelled in sports; standards have not just fallen but have ceased to exist.
“We are working on a full-proof proposal to the Government. We are ready to resuscitate the school. There are elements that seem to be profiting from Plumtree’s demise. One of which is trying to set up an OP society with him in charge, so that he can siphon funds from well-wishers,” said Mr Castro Munakandafa, a member of the OPs association.
A Sunday News crew stealthily did a quick survey of the school, where it discovered that most of the school’s infrastructure was no longer operational, with some of the infrastructure no longer usable or inhabitable. Cows were roaming freely around the school, with some sections having heaps of uncollected litter.
Rooms that students used for accommodation lay idle, depicting a picture somewhat of a reincarnation of a ghost tale. A once sparkling pool hardly had a trace or drop of water, with the only sign of life in the pool being dried up grass.
One of the buildings being the main dining hall, is said to have been shut down after one of the school’s hostels — Lloyd House, was razed down by an inferno early this year.
After the quick tour of the school the news crew sought audience from the headmaster, Mr Sipho Khumalo, who declined to comment on any question, referring all questions to the District School Inspector Mr Danisa Nkomo, who was not available for comment.
Matabeleland South provincial education director Mr Nelson Masukume, however, said he had about a fortnight ago received a contradictory report, which stated that the situation at the school had improved.
“I got a different report from the one I am hearing from you now. I am away at the moment and I cannot comment any further into the issue,” said Mr Masukume.
In addition, Mr Roy Tapela, who is interim Old Plumtree Boys Society Chairman, said the school had improved over the years, praising the school administration for working hard to turn around the fortunes of the school with enrolment now approaching 60 percent. He alluded to that there were some elements eager to take over the school from Government.
“There is a temporary chicken building situated behind the old hospital. A state-of- the-art chicken building is being erected in front of the orchard. This is an agriculture project for O-levels and will also be used to raise money under Command Agriculture.
It is an experimental project and there will be a cattle breeding, fisheries project as well as vegetable project. All these were approved by the relevant ministry,” said Mr Tapela.