HIGHER and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday said the government will soon introduce a law that will punish people receiving degrees from unaccredited institutions.
Moyo first made the announcement on micro-blogging site Twitter after a follower tagged him in a tweet alleging that the Commonwealth University was bogus.
The institution recently awarded Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO Karikoga Kaseke a Ph.D degree.
“Very soon it will be a criminal offence in Zimbabwe to offer, seek or receive a fake degree or to get one from an unaccredited organisation!,” Moyo tweeted.
The minister later told The Standard the proposed law would apply retrospectively, which means that several high-ranking government officials, including ministers, could be arrested for possessing fake degrees.
Moyo said Cabinet had since approved policy principles for the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Bill, 2017.
“The Bill seeks to regulate under one law, all the country’s academic and policy institutions in higher and tertiary education, science and technology development, which currently total 46 and which are regulated by some 23 constitutive legal instruments,” he said.
“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.”
Moyo said it had become necessary to have such a law given the proliferation of bogus institutions in and outside the country offering fake degrees and the alarming number of persons seeking, purchasing or receiving fake degrees.
“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,” Moyo said.
“Therefore, persons who offer, seek, purchase or receive fake degrees threaten and harm Zimbabwe’s national interest with respect to education whose international reputation ranks among the best.”
He said following the approval of the principles for the proposed law by Cabinet, the process of drafting the Bill had started in earnest. The minister said the Bill could be tabled before Parliament as early as July this year.
“Accordingly, questions about the definition of a fake degree and the criminal penalty for offering, seeking, purchasing or receiving such a degree are details yet to be drafted for Cabinet consideration and approval,” Moyo said.
Some of Moyo’s Twitter followers, including former Justice deputy minister Fortune Chasi, said the proposed law was long overdue.
In 2016, former Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda rejected an offer to be conferred with a doctorate degree by the little-known International Institute of Philanthropy, which has been doling out post-graduate degrees and other accolades to well-to-do people across the country.
Among those who were conferred with doctorates by the institution were United Family International Church leader Emmanuel Makandiwa’s wife, Ruth, police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri’s wife, Isabel and music legend Oliver Mtukudzi.
Some influential people claim to be Ph.D holders after receiving the degrees from bogus universities from as far as South America.-Newsday