THE International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP), which recently awarded honorary doctorates that were dismissed by the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (Zimche) as dubious, has filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to be recognised as a legitimate organisation.
The application follows a statement by Zimche where it warned beneficiaries of the honorary degrees to desist from using the title "doctor", saying the IIP had no legal mandate to award such recognition.
Some of the prominent personalities who have so far been awarded honorary doctorates by the little-known IIP include musician Oliver Mtukudzi; United Family International Church leader Emmanuel Makandiwa's wife, Ruth; Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri's wife, Isabel; former Zimbabwe National Roads Administration chief executive officer Frank Chitukutuku; Avenues Clinic managing director Merissa Kambani; and Pastor Ruth Musarurwa of Christ Embassy.
In its application, the IPP argued: "The respondent (Zimche) has no jurisdiction over applicant (IPP). The applicant's scope and sphere of activity have nothing to do with higher education which the respondent is established to regulate.
"The respondent has mixed issues about the applicant's status and objects. Applicant is non-educational and therefore beyond respondent's statutory domain. As a result of respondent's confusion, a lot of negative publicity has been made about the applicant and legitimacy of its exercise. The negative publicity has already caused serious reputational harm to the beneficiaries of applicant's lawful activities who are esteemed members of society. If left unabated, the confusion and publicity will cause irreparable harm to the applicant and these innocent parties."
Zimche in its statement published last week said IIP doctorates were not genuine because the institution was not registered in terms of Section 10 of the Zimche's Act which demanded that all degree-awarding institutions in the country must be registered with the government institution.
But, IIP argued that its honorary doctorate awards were non-academic and had nothing to do with measured intellectual prowess which fell within the scope of Zimche.
"The world over this degree has been awarded by academic institutions and private organisations alike such as churches and an organisation such as the applicant's," IIP said in its founding affidavit.