Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Don’t rush to issue honorary degrees and Prizes to politicians

Last month, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai went to South Korea to beg and to encourage South Korean businesspeople to come and invest in Zimbabwe.
I applaud that; we need that.

The South Koreans took this opportunity to award our Prime Minister an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

This is the sort of rubbish that Mugabe forced upon the University of Zimbabwe when he anointed an honorary degree on his patsy, Gideon Gono.

Feeling brand new and with a new tag on his name, he became Dr Gideon Gono and was immediately made the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Gono’s performance at the Reserve Bank has negated the doctorate awarded him.
Mugabe also dished an honorary doctorate on his long-serving, one time carpenter and submissive vice president, the late Simon Muzenda.

Mugabe, like every African president, is Chancellor of all universities in the country and dishes out honorary degrees to his friends and relatives at will.

Needless to say, this is very upsetting to those who stayed in school for many years longer.
Morons are now laughing, saying that you don’t have to go to school to be called ‘Doctor’.
On my part, I reckon, most of these honorary degrees granted to “third world” leaders, are bribes of some sort.

One just has to look at the avalanche of such degrees given to bad African leaders.

Mugabe accumulated countless honorary degrees from universities around the world.
Rewards encourage self-righteousness and encourage the recipient to continue on a particular path.
But it also leads to disaster. Western universities kept giving Mugabe honorary degrees well after he had gone rancid.

I have seen it at circuses when well-behaving animals are rewarded for doing their handler’s bidding.

Even at work, home or school, we reward ourselves and our children for doing commendable things.
That is normal, wouldn’t you say?

Rewards not only encourage recipients to continue doing well but also encourage those around the receiver to emulate the good that has been done by one from amongst them.

At a certain stage or point, rewards become, in a way, bribes to remind us of goodies that may come our way if we continue to excel or to do certain things in certain ways.
Rewards encourage us to hope that the things we are fighting for are getting the attention that we wish them to get.

But all this has a lifespan that needs to be taken into consideration.
I always associated rewards with children and circus animals until Alfred Nobel instituted the Nobel Prizes in Peace, Literature, Economics, Science and other fields.

Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, later recognizing that the use of weapons should be guided by wisdom and tempered with patience, established a prize for peace in his name.

Over the years, the Nobel Peace Prize ceased to be a pat on the shoulder; it became serious business, with last year’s winner, US President Barrack Obama, walking away with $1.4 million.
By far, the most persistently controversial prize has always been the Nobel Peace Prize.
Last year, Obama won it, not for what he did, but for what he promised to do. He even won the Peace Prize as he was sending an extra thirty thousand troops to the war in Afghanistan.

The Nobel Peace prize has seen what are terrorists in one quarter being rewarded as freedom fighters in another and winning the Peace Prize.

It was, therefore, maybe to avoid or cool such controversies, that the Nobel Committee issued double-barreled recipients, like Henry Kissinger winning it with his bitter North Vietnamese adversary, Lê Ð?c Th?, in 1973.

In 1993, South African adversaries, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Clerk, were jointly awarded the Prize.

The Nobel Committee even followed it up in 1994 but this time with a triple-barreled award to adversaries, Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, along with then Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres.

I am very interested to know who, among Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, Clerk and Nelson Mandela, were the real peacemakers.

Wouldn’t you want to know? It’s not that clear, is it?

When we look at the aftermath of the Arafat/Rabin/Peres award, that particular Nobel Peace Prize went to waste since the conflict escalated to unprecedented levels.

To me, this particular award was just to hoodwink the world into thinking that peace could be achieved without addressing the real issues of the conflict.
I concede that those who pick recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize are not clairvoyants, psychics or telepathists.

They are there to recognize “positive” effort.

They, nevertheless, should project their vision to beyond today.

I further concede that the Nobel Prize was not meant to solve wars but to appreciate the successful efforts of individuals or groups in stopping wars and conflict.

Likewise, honorary degrees are awarded for a fruitful effort.

In awarding prizes and honorary degrees, both hindsight and foresight are important because we aim to encourage others to do better than those who were rewarded before them.

Today, Israel and Palestine are the worst example of the unfortunate failure of the Nobel Committee.
Robert Mugabe’s numerous honorary degrees are now being revoked, one by one, because he has successfully defeated the purpose of the honours.

Even the Queen of England was forced to reclaim a knighthood she had bestowed on Mugabe.
Mugabe’s name was even put forward for consideration for the Nobel Peace prize in the early 80s. When that failed, they started showering him with honorary degrees, which they are now revoking.
Last year, someone again suggested our Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize. It didn’t go anywhere.

But now honorary degrees have started being directed at Tsvangirai.

Foreign organizations must refrain from rushing to bestow degrees and prizes on politicians and our leaders; awards should not be given to people who please the international community at the expense of the locals.

Look what happened with Mugabe!

And they now want to do the same with Tsvangirai.
Foreigners have started the game again, awarding Peace Prizes and honorary degrees for targets not met.

In May this year, an obscure American organization, called the National Democratic Institute, chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, bestowed on Morgan Tsvangirai a so-called ‘Harriman Democracy and Human Rights Award’.

We were told that Tsvangirai accepted “the prestigious award” in recognition of “his selfless effort in championing restoration of the rule of law, democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe and Africa”.

While I concede the efforts made by not only Tsvangirai but many others, our struggle is not over yet and these awards might push us into complacency.

There is no rule of law in Zimbabwe, let alone democracy and good governance.
There is still too much to be done and the battle is far from being won.
Awards and accolades must wait and only come after the job has been accomplished.


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