Unisa distances itself from Malawian nationals claiming to have been awarded honorary degrees

Unisa distances itself from Malawian nationals claiming to have been awarded honorary degrees. Picture: File

Unisa distances itself from Malawian nationals claiming to have been awarded honorary degrees. Picture: File

Published Nov 7, 2023


UNISA has distanced itself from three Malawian nationals who are said to have reported that they graduated from the country’s biggest distance institution of higher learning.

On Tuesday, Unisa said it has become aware through social media and media inquiries that suggest that Malawian socialite Phemphero Mphande, Malawian musician Patience Namadingo as well as a certain Mansoor Sharif Karim claim to have received honorary doctorates from the university in 2020, 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Unisa, which recently awarded honorary doctorates to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, his deputy, Justice Mandisa Maya, and Bishop Engena Joseph Lekganyane, said it has never awarded or had any plans to honour the three Malawian nationals.

“Unisa wishes to state categorically that it has not conferred any such degrees on the trio and any assertion to this effect is simply not true. These three individuals are also not among the candidates considered and approved for the awarding of honorary doctorates in 2020, 2021 and 2023. Neither have they ever been nominated, considered or approved for such honours at any period whatsoever. No honorary degrees were awarded in 2022,” Unisa said.

In his biography, Pemphero Wamwale Mphande describes himself as a writer, philanthropist, youth political activist, young politician, “entrepreneur and CSO leader”.

“I know this sounds a lot but it all describes what and who I really I am. Thank you for choosing to connect with me. I hope you can join me in the work of pushing the Malawian dream – to make sure every able Malawian has a job be it through an employer or self-employment and is contributing to the growth of our economy,” the socialite writes in his biography.

Unisa, through its acting registrar, Professor Moloko Sepota, said it has seen some of the certificates displayed by these individuals on social media and concludes that these do not belong to them.

“The certificates displayed by Messrs Mphande and Namadingo respectively are definitely not Unisa degree certificates. For the record, the awarding of honorary doctorates at Unisa occurs through a strictly controlled process, with nominations and approvals handled through various governance structures of the university until final approval by the University Council,” Sepota said.

“Once such approval has been secured, the conferment itself is done at an open graduation ceremony of the university, in full view of those attending and presided over by a duly authorised official of the university, usually the Chancellor or Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

“Any claim of the awarding of an honorary degree which did not follow this process cannot be an official Unisa process.

“As a university, we distance ourselves from these false claims and also condemn in the strongest terms the misuse of the Unisa name for fraudulent conduct. Relevant officials within the university have been directed to look into this matter and ensure that these individuals are held to account and also made to retract any false claims,” said Sepota.