Thursday, October 22, 2020

Some earn them in class, others get them gratis

A web of business, family and political connections is believed to have influenced the University of Botswana’s decision yesterday (Saturday) to award an honourary degree to President Ian Khama.

The decision to confer the President with the degree was made by the UB Senate and Council. Among members of the UB Council are President Khama’s younger brother Anthony, his personal lawyer and right hand man Parks Tafa, member of President Khama’s eight person Presidential Inspectorate Task Force Mathias Chakalisa, head of National Aids Coordinating Agency under the Office of the President Grace Muzila, business partner of the Khama brothers Anthony and Tshekedi at MG Rover Group Brian Jacques and long-time friend of the Khama family from Serowe, John Mynhardt.

UB spokesperson Reetsang Mhitshane told Sunday Standard that President Khama was deserving of the award because he has contributed massively to the development of Botswana. Khama received his first honourary Degree from the Republic of South Korea last year. During a four-day state visit to the Republic of Korea last year he was awarded an honourary Doctorate of Political Science Degree by Konkuk University – the leading Korean tertiary institution for Political Science and Public Administration.

In awarding the degree to Khama in 2015 the President of Konkuk University, Professor Kim Kyung Hee Konkuk said: “President Khama has been recognised for his strong leadership in challenging circumstance for steady economic growth and stable governance.”

The South Koreans further praised Khama for his contribution to SADC as an organ of peace and security, and for contributing to enhance Botswana-Korean friendship and cooperation.

Scholars say recipients of honourary doctorate degrees do not earn them through academic achievements, rather with generous and altruistic actions or lifetime accomplishments that benefit a community, nation or humanity in general. Some schools allow candidates to apply for consideration for the degree, while others require nomination by a third party. Each university that confers honourary degrees establishes its own criteria for acceptance.

Recipients may receive more than one honorary degree, but never from the same school twice.

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