SUPERSTAR musician Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi yesterday broke his silence over the controversial honorary degree recently conferred on him by a suspected bogus organisation, International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP), saying he was treating the accolades like other ordinary honour he received in the past.
Tuku was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (DHL) degree by the IIP in recognition of his “contribution to humanity”.
“With regards to this award, we regard it as any other award that Mdara (Tuku) has received,” said Tuku’s manager Sam Mataure.
“From our side, we have no comments to make about the award. I think the best thing to do is for you to approach the institution and ask them. We are in Tanzania at the moment.”
The controversial degrees have sparked a flurry of criticism with academics and the general public questioning the credibility of conveners, little-known IIP which is fronted locally by ex-convict Enrico Sibanda, after it emerged that the institution was not affiliated to any degree-issuing institution.
Apart from Tuku, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) boss Gershem Pasi, Ruth Makandiwa the wife of United Families International leader Emmanuel Makandiwa were also listed as some of the 10 recipients of the award.
The award, according to the institution, was given to “most influential Zimbabweans who have made a contribution to humanity”.
Pasi on Tuesday distanced himself from the scam, saying he rejected the honour.
This was despite Pasi and Zimra accepting an Honorary Award in Philanthropy and an Honorary Award in Organisational Philanthropy frmo PIZ on April 28 2013 at a ceremony held at Meikles Hotel in Harare.
It is also emerging that Sibanda (27) may not even have “O” Level qualifications after being dismissed from Mbizo High School in Kwekwe in 2002.
The News crew could not establish the reason why he was sent away from school, and whether he moved to another school.
Impeccable sources privy to the developments in Sibanda’s life said the PIZ chief facilitator did not have “O” level not because he failed, but he did not sit for the examination.
Sibanda is said to have served a term at WhaWha Prison in Midlands Province for various offenses which, according to the source, include cellphone theft and house-breaking.
NewsDay could not immediately establish the period Sibanda was reportedly in prison.
Yesterday Sibanda told NewsDay he was busy and promised to call back, but had not done so by the time of going to print.
“It was after he came from prison that he formed an organisation called Prison Bhora where he would source funding and materials to support soccer in prisons. He would also get goodies to give to inmates,” the source said.
Sibanda’s Facebook page confirmed that he was the president of the Prison Bhora project.
“The 8th of June 2012 marked the official launch of The Zimbabwe Prison Soccer National Juvenile Championships (Prison Bhora) @Whawha Young Offenders Prison in the Midlands town of Gweru,” Sibanda wrote on his Facebook Timeline page.
Sibanda identified himself as President of Zimbabwe Prison Soccer National Juvenile Championships (Prison Bhora) and founder of Prisons International Juvenile Development Trust.
He had been working with Moonlight Funeral Assurance chief executive Chomi Makina, who is said to be PIZ president.
Sibanda and Makina also received Honorary Doctorate Degrees in Human Letters by Sibanda’s PIZ, alongside Tuku.
Soon after NewsDay broke the scam, Sibanda sent an email to Mataure on Wednesday claiming he would go all out to redeem the organisation’s legitimacy.
He told Mataure that he had produced the registration certificates and NewsDay snubbed his Press briefing.
Tatenda Maziazia (23), who is listed as one of the directors, is reportedly Sibanda’s wife.
Sibanda’s PIZ was only registered by the Registrar of Companies on June 20 last month.
“Again allow us to reassure you our Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree holders that we are humbled and grateful for your unwavering support and as an Institute and all our Affiliates we will leave no stone unturned in redeeming the credibility of the Institute as it is legal and legitimate by local, regional and international laws (sic).” Sibanda told Mataure in the email.
Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education has already said neither the IIP nor the PIZ were registered with them nor affiliated to any university.
They said conferring degrees was the prerogative of universities or university affiliated institutions only.