Copperbelt University Academics president Dr Derrick Ntalasha says the University of Zambia’s decision to confer President Edgar Lungu with an Honorary Doctorate is a joke which has undermined the institution’s credibility because any recipient of such an award must be proven to deserve it beyond reasonable doubt.
In an interview, Dr Ntalasha said it was discouraging to note that President Lungu was being honoured for mere political appeasement.
“An honour is something that someone deserves and has worked for beyond reasonable doubt. If you start giving honours to people who do not deserve it, the credibility of the University is questioned. We are really degrading our credibility because academia must be above petty politics,” Dr Ntalasha said.
“Let us honour people who have contributed to an area of development or academia and are recognized for that contribution not because of their position in society or in anything, but a contribution in law, research or social development of the country.”
He said the reasons given in honouring the Head of State also lacked a sound basis.
“If you are a father in a home and you buy mealie-meal does that mean you have done exceedingly well rather than what everyone else does? If you talk about the promotion of gender rights in politics and you have appointed someone that should not be taken as an honour, but something you want to promote. The appointment of a woman (as) Vice-President does not translate that someone has worked, what if the appointment was used for political expedience, that someone can get honours from Western Province, that shouldn’t be the case,” Dr Ntalasha argued.
He said President Lungu did not do anyone a favor by assenting to the 2016 constitution as it was part of his job.
“The enactment of the Constitution is something that every well-meaning political leader is supposed to be doing as it protects the Constitution; that is why they are sworn-in by the Constitution. Enacting it is not doing some one a favour or they should be honoured for it; that is part of the job. How do you get honoured for doing what you are employed and paid to being doing? That should not be a definition that someone has done extremely well,” Dr Ntalasha said.
He described the whole episode as a joke.
“In fact, the same Constitution being talked about has a lot of lacunas; it was done in a hurried manner! How do we even refer to the enactment of the Constitution that does not promote human rights? It doesn’t have the Bill of Rights that protect the rights of citizens. Let us be honest with affairs and not just dream matters that, ‘he appointed a woman Vice-President and he enacted the Constitution and other matters that he should be honoured.’ In my opinion, it is a joke! We are a country or a university of jokers; that is why we have to find reasons to justify his honouring!” exclaimed Dr Ntalasha.
Meanwhile, President Lungu told Ndola residents and journalists, Saturday, that those who thought he did not deserve the honorary doctorate were just playing politics and he would not respond to them.
“Firstly, I am not a Doctor. I do not have a doctorate and I do not wish to be called Dr Edgar Lungu. There is so much talk about the doctorate to be conferred on me by the University of Zambia which I am greatly humbled with. But, let me tell you that in class I was one of the best students and if I really wanted to venture into the academia, the academic world, I would have been a professor by now. But I chose to pursue the political life and practice of the law,” said President Lungu, upon arrival at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport.
“So those who think I do not deserve to be honored by the University of Zambia, that is politics and I will not respond to that. And even if I am conferred and recognized as such by the institution, I wouldn’t really want to be called Dr Lungu, I still want to remain simple Edgar.”