Written by MANENO CHIMULALA
Malawi’s presidents coming after Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda – who actually studied and graduated twice for his medical degree, seem to be obsessed with honorary degrees.
Bakili Muluzi collected an assortment of honorary degrees which did not mirror his character, leadership and achievements.
Then came late Bingu wa Mutharika’s honorary economics professorship from a Chinese university, a professorship that added no value at all to his brand of pseudo-economics.
While the universities that dispense these funny degrees may do so with good intentions, the presidents of ours, instead of taking the awards as a personal challenge towards excellence; use these titles to advance selfish agendas, cement their political power, and as certification for the manipulation of minds of those that cannot see beyond the buffoonery.
And now, even as Malawians are feeling the pinch of copy and paste economic policies of the current administration, it is funny to learn that President Banda has been awarded a doctorate degree as a token of appreciation for the improved economy in the country.
Which economy are the Koreans referring to?
What the University of Jeonju has done is nothing but absurd and unfortunate because many Malawians are bearing the brunt a currency currently in a tantalizing free fall; while a select few have – overnight - become millionaires and have the nerve to declare 2013 a year of merry-making.
What the University of Jeonju has achieved is to insult rational Malawians because barely two weeks have elapsed since Malawians petitioned the president over the ailing economy and the skyrocketing of cost of living.
Which is why I ask again: which economy are the Koreans referring to?
What the University of Jeonju has done is laughable because while they were bestowing the accolade on President Joyce Banda in Korea; sick babies in Malawi’s major referral hospitals were being packed like sardines, up to four in one bed, and people were languishing in hospitals that have run out of essential drugs.
It is irrational to confer a doctorate degree on the basis of “improved economy” to the president whose administration’s much touted Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) is proving not worth the paper it is written on and whose economic policies are not working for the betterment of the citizens.
I can safely conclude that the accolade is yet another gimmick intended to brainwash Malawians that the current leadership has what it takes to drive Malawi to economic affluence, which is sadly not the case and is increasingly becoming evident.
If, however, failure to procure and stock hospitals with basic medicines in as far as the University of Jeonju is concerned, “a sign of an improved economy” then indeed the doctorate is a fitting award.