Some prominent Zimbabweans have a really unhealthy obsession with fake education qualifications such that it has become necessary to legislate against this academic transgression.
Comment: The Standard Editor
Several government officials, senior commanders in the security services, religious personalities and celebrities have been taking turns to receive Ph.D degrees from questionable local and foreign institutions without any sense of shame.
A number of prominent people occupying very important public offices have been flaunting their ill-gotten academic credentials in the media and insisting on being addressed as Dr so and so.
The fake Ph.Ds are acquired from as far as the Philippines, Mexico, United States and Malaysia where these well-to-do people shell out thousands of dollars in return for useless titles.
All of a sudden, Zimbabwe is now a country of doctors and professors but there is nothing to show for this supposed academic excellence that we must believe is in abundance.
The economy continues to drift towards the abyss but we don’t seem to find solutions to the many social problems that come along with a crumbling country.
Meanwhile, there is evidence that the ease with which some people acquire these academic credentials and titles is having a negative effect on the country’s psyche.
There is a demonstrable increase in the number of phoney institutions taking advantage of Zimbabweans desperate to get high-sounding but fake academic qualifications.
Even at accredited institutions, corruption has become rife because people are desperate to get degrees at whatever cost.
People have been conditioned to believe that it is a walk in the park to get postgraduate qualifications because an increasing number of illiterate politicians now have fancy titles such as doctors.
In 2014, Zimbabweans learnt with horror that first lady Grace Mugabe had acquired a Ph.D from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) in record time.
There is still no evidence that President Robert Mugabe’s wife fulfilled the requirements of the degree before she was capped by her husband, amid pomp and ceremony. Her thesis is yet to be made public almost three years after her graduation.
Therefore, fears that the integrity of the country’s education system is under threat from fake degrees awarded by institutions from within and outside Zimbabwe are real.
This is why we applaud the announcement by Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo (pictured) that the government will soon introduce a law that will punish people receiving degrees from unaccredited institutions.
Moyo last week said the proposed law would apply retrospectively, which means that several high-ranking government officials, including ministers, could be arrested for receiving fake degrees.
“One of the principles approved by Cabinet is that it should be a criminal offence for anyone to offer, seek, purchase or receive a fake degree,” the minister said.
“The practice of offering, seeking, purchasing or receiving fake degrees is aggravated by the fact that education is Zimbabwe’s comparative advantage and is of strategic value to the country in the national interest.”
We could not agree more with this assertion. Time has come to nip the cancer in the bud.
Since the scourge has become so pervasive in Zimbabwe, it is also encouraging that government intends to apply this proposed law retrospectively.
It is our hope that it will be applied without fear or favour since most of the culprits are influential people.
Politicians from across the divide need to support this proposed legislation because it is for the good of the country.