Walter Mzembi’s ‘dodgy’ degrees


HARARE – TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi is embroiled in a “dodgy degrees scandal” amid allegations that he has been failing to “pay” for a Mexican honorary doctorate in management. 

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi (right) seen here with his wife
Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi (right) seen here with his wife

This also comes as the smooth-faced Masvingo South legislator has been struggling to extricate himself from a multi-million dollar United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) tender row surrounding the appointment of a Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) for this major event.

According to information at hand, Mzembi — who has also been calling himself an engineer despite carrying a diploma — has allegedly fallen short on his promises to wire cash or money for an honorary degree under a deal facilitated by controversial professor Lovemore Mbigi.

“We are not allowed to discuss student details because it’s normally confidential. However, the guy (Mzembi) you mentioned from Zimbabwe has made tremendous contribution around their tourism industry,” the South African-based academic told the WeekendPost.

“We don’t issue certificates, but we partner universities that confer degrees (and) getting an honorary doctorate isn’t based on what you have achieved in life,” Mbigi said, adding a key consideration in this controversial drive or programme was “one’s curriculum vitae and have made tremendous achievements towards the development of your country”.

According to him it takes about three to six months for someone to be evaluated for a doctorate degree and only two or three Zimbabweans have qualified “for this honour” — even, though, inquiries have been coming in thick and fast.

Crucially, Mbigi said it costs people like Mzembi a cool $6 000 to land these coveted prizes or qualifications from little-known universities such as Azteca in South America.

While the Zanu PF minister — unwittingly voted top performer of the year by the Daily News last year — was unavailable for comment yesterday, as his mobile phone went unanswered.

In the meantime, a recent political resume seen by this paper shows that the controversial politician — fingered in the destabilisation of RioZim-owned gold miner Renco in recent times — has a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the same Mexican university.

The interesting paper, also extolling the 49-year-old minister’s working life, achievements and tourism awards, shows that Mzembi has a Zambian technologist diploma, which has earned him “engineer-ship” status for years.

The same CV also shows the Harare businessman has another BBA from Nicaragua — a Central American outpost famous for its coffee, sharks, volcanoes and lakes. Interestingly, Mzembi also has a diploma in business and governance studies from the United States.

His working life also includes stints as Ag-Venture marketing director and general manager of Stewards & Lloyds — a company once associated with President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Leo and ex-Zimbabwe Football Association chairman.

Between 1988 and 1990, the former Eddison Zvobgo protégé was a mines inspector in the then ministry of Mines.

While diploma holders like Mzembi have been allowed to carry the prestigious title of engineer due to a pre-2010 revision of the criteria used for one to qualify for such an honour, a Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers (ZIE) officer told the WeekendPost on Wednesday that things have since changed.

“Basically for one to be given the title engineer, you ought to have an engineering degree from a recognised university. A university alone is not sufficient to make one an engineer, but you ought to be registered with the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe (ECZ) after acquiring at least three years… in the engineering field,” Wilson Banda, the institute’s membership services and training officer, said.

“Nowadays, one cannot be recognised as an engineer without approval by the ECZ and without having minimum qualifications of a university degree (from a recognised institution),” he said, adding “back in the days ECZ would also accredit diploma holders as engineers” but this has since stopped onwards of November 2010.

Banda emphasised, though, that those accredited before this cut-off date would still be recognised as engineers, although “all certificate and diploma holders are only referred to as technicians”.

The Mzembi storm also comes as several other Zanu PF-aligned politicians are scrambling for doctorate degrees from fuzzy universities.

Although a furore has been raised after flamboyant businessman Philip Chiyangwa’s recent conferment from a Philippino college, it would seem that the St Linus University alumni — championed by Pythias Chinovava — is growing with MBCA Bank Limited chief executive Charity Jinya being the latest recipient.

However, the Native Investments Africa Group chairman and founder has vehemently defended his business leadership conferment on the grounds that it was from an institution recognised by the Commonwealth, and United Nations. — Weekend Post

  • MuChina

    Umm umm vamwe varume vanogona kuroora mhani… ndokuti mukadzi ka uku!

  • Maphenduka Ncube

    Ngaende kuchikoro angodzidza, UZ irikutora mature entry.

  • Kunta Kinte

    Prophet Uebert Angel’s fake degree also comes to mind. There are many high profile people like this who are going to be exposed as times moves on, wait and see. Rina manyanga hariputirwe.

  • Masimba Musodza

    what is worse: the Zimbabweans in power with fake Honoraries, or all the ex-Diasporans waiting in the wings with their Sociology Degrees from those polytechs that Tony Blair converted in to universities?

    • diggles

      uneMajerasi! Iwe unechitupa chiekupi?

      • Masimba Musodza

        Ndinoitira munhu anfake degree jerasi rei? Kana ndarida handiti ndinongotengawo rangu?

    • Rawboy

      Eh! As a Polytechnic graduate …And a proud one from when Polytechnics were real Polytechnics! I take umbrage in your denigration of them. I will have you know they were a breeding ground of practical engineers who before graduating had to spend a year in industry.(getting paid good money too!) And BTW it was during the Thatcher and Major years when they became unis.

  • bobsled

    Its high time we as Zimboz debated the connect ion between knowledge and power and also the changing forms of knowledge under globalisation especially the process of its legitimation. We are experiencing the downside of comodified knowledge…for begginers its a natural extension of performance awards and appraisal together with school rankings. Is that we really want…who benefits who loses and why so?

  • Dendera

    But he has performed better than the so-called learned professors and doctors. Nevertheless, it is bad to fake qualifications. Dr Mzee vakangofa wani vane chavo chitupa chekuveza! VaMzembi, basa munogona asi musanyepera mabhuku amusina.

  • ScottBaum71

    My question is, why is he paying 6000$?? You can receive an honorary doctorate degree from religious organizations in the United States (such as LADC Institute) for usually a very small donation, like $69. It’s an honorary degree, not an academic degree, so there are no academic requirements.

  • Parent

    walter, thank you for chasing away Maunganidze Sylvester the AIDS rapist from tourism. You have greatly helped reduce on rapes and AIDS.

  • E Makhate

    If only Mzembi or Jinya could speak Spanish since the Mexicans & Phillipinos do lessons in Spanish. What a shame that Zimbabweans are now giving themselves fake titles. I even saw one head of a statutory organisation with CEng, PrEng after his name. Yet this guy is not registered in the UK and South Africa as an Engineer. Zim is in serious crisis. Please go to school and stop lying.