The controversial International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP) says it will continue issuing out honorary doctorate degrees despite concerns about their authenticity.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
IIP has over the years doled out “Ph.Ds” to prominent people such as music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, former Zimbabwe Revenue Authority commissioner-general Gershem Pasi and United International Family Church’s Ruth Makandiwa.
Enrico Sibanda, the institution’s representative, said they were not losing sleep over Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s proposed law that would criminalise the awarding of fake qualifications.
“The people we honoured did not sit for any examinations, there is no syllabus, but we are registered in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We are law-abiding citizens and if one day there will be a law regulating philanthropy, we will abide by such law.”
Sibanda claimed IIP was registered but refused to provide any further details.
“For any institution to operate, it has to have some sort of registration and we did that and have a registration number,” he said.
“Former Higher Eductaion minister Olivia Muchena said government was not concerned with such honours as those we confer.
“In fact, at the time she praised the IIP for honouring people ‘who are often forgotten’. We have never wilfully broken any law”.
Besides fake degrees, prominent people are accused of using money to clandestinely obtain Ph.Ds from local and foreign universities.
Moyo recently set the cat among the pigeons when he suggested that Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga was not the author of a Ph.D thesis, which saw him graduate at the University of Kwazulu Natal as the best student in his class.
Meanwhile, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, who turned down an honorary doctorate degree from the Commonwealth University, said he saw nothing wrong with such awards but they should not be commercialised.
“There is nothing wrong with honorary degrees but they should pass the test,” he said.
“There should be evidence that the person has tried in any human endeavour.
“Vice-chancellors should be the custodians and gate-keepers and vet the awarding institutions. All the people who have been awarded should be paraded and people should know the night school that awarded it.”
Local universities have often come under fire for dishing out honorary doctorate degrees to politicians, including some with questionable reputations.