It seems Addis Ababa University is trying hard to gain international recognition by conferring on some people honorary degrees for achievements that are entirely false. According to Dr Admassu Tsegaye, President of the Addis Ababa University, who presided over the conferring on President Peter Mutharika an honorary doctorate last week, Mutharika has led Malawi from aid to trade, has diversified Malawi’s economy, and has fought corruption. It was for these reasons that Addis Ababa University decided to confer on him an honorary doctorate.But, seriously, folks, did Tsegaye say this based on any evidence at all or he just dreamed up stuff to justify the conferring of the degree on our president?
Which trade has Mutharika led us to? Show us the statistics, show us the data. What were our exports before Mutharika became president? And what are our exports now? And what is the evidence of Mutharika’s policies’ impact on trade?
When Tsegaye says Mutharika has diversified our economy, which economy? Which diversification? Malawi has been relying on tobacco since independence, and it still relies on tobacco now. After tobacco there is sugar, then tea, and so on. Officials have been singing a song for a long time to make tourism a key forex earner, but nothing has been done to make the environment more conducive for improved tourist traffic.
The greatest joke is on corruption. Even as Tsegaye was saying this, a few streets away, in the Malawian embassy in Addis Ababa, hundreds of millions of kwacha were unaccounted for, the corruption having taken place on Mutharika’s watch.
If this is Dr Admassu Tsegaye’s way of joking, I suggest that he should stop joking with the fate of seventeen million souls. He should stop toying with the destiny of other nations. There are enough people in Ethiopia he could confer doctorates on, and for real achievements too, rather than bestowing honour on Mutharika for fictitious reasons.
Fighting corruption is one area in which Mutharika has particularly shown lack of commitment. He has rebuffed granting the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) the independence it needs to fight corruption more effectively. In March this year, when a bill to grant ACB independence was brought before Parliament, Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its allies defeated it handily, and Mutharika was gleeful that the bill had failed. This was despite the fact that both in the DPP’s manifesto and also in his own speeches during the general election campaign, Mutharika promised to relinquish some of his powers and grant the ACB independence.
So for any foreigner to suggest that Mutharika is fighting corruption to the extent that merits recognition with an honorary doctorate is to demonstrate that that honorary doctorate is useless, and is awarded based on fictitious reasons.
I would have had no problem if the Addis Ababa University wanted to award Mutharika as a former lecturer of theirs, but not to insult a nation by claiming that Mutharika has achieved something he has not.
Truth be told: Mutharika’s style of governing involves putting the government machinery on auto-pilot, hoping that nothing goes wrong. When he attempts to step out of his comfort zone to explain his policies to the people, he appears disconnected from reality. In Zomba, for instance, he promised that his government would build a stadium and a shopping mall, as if these two pieces of infrastructure are what Zomba – with its general hospital in disrepair – really needs right now. In Mulanje, he asked people to cope with famine by eating mice.
Foreign universities must stop this nonsense of manufacturing achievements for our president, because it, truly, is an insult that is entirely uncalled for.