FORMER Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has rejected an offer to be conferred with a “Doctorate degree” by the little-known International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP), which has been doling out “post-graduate degrees” and other accolades to well-to-do people across the country.
Masunda, a respected legal practitioner and astute businessman, spurned the offer from IIP in supposed recognition of his “contribution to humanity” on the basis that the institute had questionable credentials as it was “not registered” as a university.
“I take grave exception to having anything to do with organisations such as yours, the so-called International Institute of Philanthropy, which is, as far as I’m aware, neither accredited to, nor recognised by, the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (Zimche),” Masunda wrote to IIP.
IIP is run by self-styled philanthropist and ex-convict Enrico Sibanda, whose claim to fame is dishing out honorary doctorates to celebrities and business leaders, among others.
NewsDay tried the contact details that the IIP representative had used to communicate with Masunda without success.
The representative, only identified as Tracy, recoiled after Masunda’s angry retort, offering him unreserved apology.
“My apologies, Sir, Mr Sibanda is not in Zimbabwe. We meant no offence,” Tracy responded to Masunda in a letter.
Yesterday, Masunda described the conferring of “bogus degrees” as nonsensical, saying it should be stopped to protect Zimbabwe’s proud educational legacy.
“We need to nip in the bud this pervasive nonsense about bogus PhDs in Zimbabwe, whose literacy levels have always been a source of pride, not just in Africa, but the whole world,” Masunda said.
The ex-Harare mayor said he had capacity to acquire one if he so wished.
“If I need any post-graduate qualifications, I’ll do it properly through a duly accredited and recognised institution of higher and tertiary education either locally, regionally or internationally,” Masunda said.
He signed off the letter as the former chairman of the Interim Council of the University of Zimbabwe.
IIP has been doling out doctorates to well-known people in apparent recognition of their “sterling efforts” in humanitarian work across different communities.
Among those who have been conferred with doctorates include United Family International Church leader Emmanuel Makandiwa’s wife, Ruth, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri’s wife, Isabel, Moonlight managing director Chomi Makina, Avenues Clinic managing director Merissa Kambani and music legend Oliver Mtukudzi.
Others are former Zimbabwe National Roads Administration chief executive officer Frank Chitukutuku and Christ Embassy pastor Ruth Musarurwa.
Yet, Masunda was not impressed by the offer and said he would not accept a doctorate that he did not sweat for.
His rejection followed several approaches by Tracy, who claimed to have been tasked by Sibanda to ensure the businessman was awarded the doctorate.
Sibanda wanted to confer Masunda with a Doctorate of Humane Letters on account of the community-orientated work which he has done for the country over the years.
Controversy also surrounds First Lady Grace Mugabe’s doctorate degree with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), but university officials have remained tight-lipped over the matter.
The Zimbabwe National Students’ Union demanded an inquiry into the affair, but since then, UZ officials have not bothered to explain the issue.
The Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education recently said it did not recognise online qualifications and honorary degrees being dished out by institutions that were not universities.
The organisation also said some institutions had turned out to be “degree mills”, which only existed in name, but with no physical address and from which one could “purchase” degrees.
When NewsDay exposed his fake degrees in July 2014, Sibanda identified himself as President of Zimbabwe Prison Soccer National Juvenile Championships (Prison Bhora) and founder of Prisons International Juvenile Development Trust.
Sibanda was in November last year arraigned at the Harare Magistrates’ Court facing several fraud charges involving $5 900 in unpaid hotel bills.
In December last year, he was in court again for another case of fraud after reportedly failing to pay for a Mercedes-Benz he bought from a Harare woman.-Newsday