Zuma, Jordaan Should Forfeit Their Honorary Doctorates

Former South African President Jacob Zuma (L) talks with Daniel Alexander 'Danny' Jordaan. PICTURE: Getty Images

As a series of corporate governance scandals continue to tarnish KPMG’s reputation, the Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (ABSA) and the Auditor-General (AG) are the latest corporate entities that have cut off their ties with the embattled audit firm, writes MOLIFI TSHABALALA

Essentially, they do not want to associate themselves with the entity that is embroiled in, among other things, a R220 million corruption scandal at the Diary Farm project in Vrede, Free State Province, and the so-called ‘rogue unit’ at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), both of which are central to a state capture project.

In contrast, the University of Fort Hare (UFH), the University of Zululand (Unizulu), and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) – formerly known as the Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUSA) – to name but a few unashamedly continue to associate themselves with a state capture kingpin, former ANC and South African President Jacob Zuma, whom they have conferred with honorary doctorates in 2001.

In particular, the UFH, which conferred him with a Doctor of Philosophy in Administration degree, should have rescinded his honorary doctorate on or shortly after the 23rd of August 2003, the day then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Bulelani Ngcuka implicated him in a prima facie case of corruption. 

In some instances, a universal dictum of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ does not apply on an honorary doctorate, which is akin to a corporate ambassadorship and/or a corporate sponsorship. The same day the news broke out that former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius had shot dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, for instance, Nike terminated his sponsorship, effectively disassociating itself from him. Furthermore, it took off an Internet advert that showed the double-amputee springing with a caption: “I am the bullet in the chamber”.

The same day, the eye-wear manufacturer Oakley also terminated his sponsorship. Like Nike, it did not wait for a court of law to find him guilty of murder, a process that can take a long time in certain cases. Nor did George Washington University wait for a court of law to find disgraced American actor and comedian Bill Cosby guilt of sexual assaults before it could rescind his honorary doctorate.

In so doing, it emphatically condemned a woman abuse, which is on an exponential upsurge not only in South Africa, but also across the globe. In fact, it is said that South Africa’s femicide rate is five times higher than a global one. Nevertheless, since Steenkamp’s death, we have had equally, if not more, gruesome femicide cases, from that of Rachel ‘Dolly’ Tshabalala to that of Karabo Mokoena.

In addition to his implication in corruption, the SMU, the UFH, and UniZulu should have rescinded Zuma’s honorary doctorates to emphatically condemn sexual assault and other forms of women abuse. In 2005, Zuma stood trial for rape of 31-year-old Fezekile Kuzwayo – infamously known as ‘Khwezi’.

As if that were not enough, Zuma, who chaired the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) at the time, said he took a shower after having unprotected sexual intercourse with the HIV-positive Kuzwayo to prevent infection. It boggles the mind that the universities, which are, additional to tuition, research institutions, unashamedly continue to associate themselves with someone of such non-scientific orthodox in a country with equally high rate of HIV/AIDS infection.

A few years later, Zuma fathered a girl child out of wedlock with 39-year-old divorcee, Sonono Khoza, a daughter of his long-time friend Ivirn Khoza, an Orlando Pirates Football Club owner. This showed his continued practice of unsafe sex in (an) extramarital affair(s). Sadly, the practice continues unabatedly and the universities continue to associate themselves with Zuma, who has fathered another child with 24-year-old Nonkanyiso Conco out of wedlock.

Essentially, Zuma justifies his unsafe extramarital affair(s) through a reversed polygamy. According to an African practice, he should ask consent from his eldest wife, Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma, generally known as ‘MaKhumalo,’ to take another woman. It is said that MaKhumalo learnt through the media reports about Conco’s pending wedding. Then, successive, and incumbent SMU, the UFH, and UniZulu chancellors should bury their heads in shame for associating their institutions with Zuma.

Sadly, our former President and University of South Africa (UNISA) chancellor Thabo Mbek, who has championed women’s empowerment, should also bury his head in shame together with his Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, UFH, and University of Western Cape counterparts for associating their institutions with South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan, whom singer and former ANC parliamentarian Jennifer Ferguson accuses of raping her. Another woman has accused him of sexual harassment, thus painting a picture of Cosby in him, namely a serial women abuser. 

Jordaan has shrugged off these accusations as a smear camapign to render him ineligible for re-election as SAFA president. While this may be true, it does not prevent the universities from rescinding or suspending his honorary doctorates until he has cleared his name. Clearly, these universities should revise their honorary doctorate criteria to ensure that alumni embody their ethics and values in relation to societal issues. 

  • Tshabalala is an author and independent political analyst

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