Zim’s academic glitter going down the drain

Zanu PF luminaries seem to be falling over each other to acquire advanced university degrees which are in many cases the product of patronage rather than performance.

The most notable recipients are First Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

Grace Mugabe has been awarded a PhD in the Social Studies Faculty while Mujuru graduated with a PhD in the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Zimbabwe.

Other notable graduands last weekend were primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora who graduated with a PhD in the Faculty of Arts, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs Abigail Damasane who graduated with a Master’s degree in Public Administration, and Patrick Zhuwao, a nephew of President Mugabe, who graduated with a Master of Science degree in Economics.

MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa graduated with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) degree while Youth chair Solomon Madzore graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) degree.

Devaluation
UZ vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura bemoaned the brain drain at UZ and appealed to government to improve conditions of service at the country’s leading academic institution.

What he and others in the upper echelons of the university appeared not to recognise is the devaluation of the academic product by awarding individuals who have political connections but no serious academic credentials.

Only a few months ago it was reported that Grace had registered for a doctoral degree with the university.

“Allow me to single out a very special and unique graduand,” Nyagura gushed. “The first lady who shall be presented to you for conferment of a degree.”

A reader has written in to remind us: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a trained typist/secretary can type their own thesis.”

He said the same of Mujuru.

The university, who many regard as their alma mater, is now no different from any other tertiary institution in the country, all of whom boast the president as their chancellor. Many of the graduands see education through patronage as a patriotic duty.

Butressed
Grace’s first attempt at academic studies was a bit of a disaster but she now has the powerful machinery of UZ behind her.

Grace is being marketed by Zupco which obviously won’t be doing it for free. But the first lady’s handlers should be cautious here. There is an expression in English for those who wish to be unkind about their opponents’ looks.

They “look like the back of a bus”, it is said. Luckily nobody would say that here. Freedom of expression is something UZ no longer holds dear.

Conflicting
Patrick Chinamasa has been in the news recently as he attempts to explain the complexities of President Mugabe’s Chinese visit.

There was the now customary abuse of white farmers following Mugabe’s return. But nobody in the Zanu PF leadership has stopped to think about the consequences of attacking a productive minority whose only offence is to farm!

Zimbabwe’s benefactors abroad will certainly note how things are done here and give the country a wide berth.

That is already happening. It would be foolhardy of Zanu PF land-grabbers to think they can pocket somebody else’s property and at the same time appeal to the West for help.

Let’s hope the new generation of broadcasters understand their duty as open doors to the wider world and not the lickspittle agencies of the state they have been.

Helpless
Riled by the influx of imports into the country, which resulted in an alarming import bill standing at US$3 billion during the first half of the year, Chinamasa in his mid-term monetary policy hiked import duty on several goods.

The idea being to cushion the local industry and boost production.

Borrowing largely from other economies such as China which thrived on government protectionism to protect infant industries which later on propelled development, Chinamasa ironically failed to realise Zimbabwe has no meaningful infant industries to safeguard.

Protectionism works better in an economy with vibrant production, not in this scenario whereby companies are closing on a daily basis. How do you protect collapsing industries?

The genesis of massive imports of goods is the failure by government to create a business environment that promotes industrialisation.

Buying cheap and junk goods from other countries is an indication of poor governance and economic retrogression. Zimbabwe must simply go beyond preaching policies and inject the required inertia to revive the crippling industrial sector.

More deals
More deals are being signed. Russians have been glorified this week for signing a memorandum of understanding with the government, aimed at breathing new life into the mining sector.

The Herald hailed the move claiming it was another boost after President Robert Mugabe and other officials recently signed nine deals in China.

“The deals come hard on the heals of nine mega infrastructure deals signed between Zimbabwe and China during President Mugabe’s state visit to Beijing last month. The deals, which feed into infrastructure and utilities cluster of ZimAsset, are expected to boost economic turnaround and spawn over 20 000 jobs,” reads the Herald.

It appears government uses Russia and China to achieve hypnotic effects to calm nerves of the toiling masses who are now standing aloof like theatrical spectators who have lost the plot while anticipating the descendence of a messiah to save their souls.