The Government has rejected a proposal by Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokela (MDC Alliance) to strip President Emmerson Mnangagwa of his ceremonial title of Chancellor of State universities.
Molokela made the suggestion during the second reading of the State Universities Statutes Bill by the Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Amon Murwira in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Molokela, who sits on parliament’s education committee, proposed that every institution should be allowed to pick the chancellor as happens in other countries and not “burden” the President. He said:
I’m proposing that there be a clause that gives flexibility in the appointment of chancellors to say that the chancellor of the university can be the president of the republic or someone else who the University Council may deem fit.
This is in line with other institutions for higher learning across the world, even public institutions of higher learning.
For example in South Africa, the president is not the chancellor of each and every state university.
The university councils are given the flexibility to appoint another eminent person in society to be a chancellor.
I’m recommending that we include a clause in this Bill that says the university council should have an option of appointing another chancellor, apart from the president of Zimbabwe because we now have a lot of universities and there is no need to burden the president to officiate.
You have seen graduation ceremonies being postponed because the president is unavailable, and the president is busy.
Yes, that is normal because the universities are now many. So, let’s include a new clause that says that the chancellor can be the president of the republic or any other eminent Zimbabwean citizen who the council may choose.
Murwira, however, argued that the chancellor is a ceremonial post with the most prominent person in that nation and therefore, no changes will be made to that. He said:
When it comes to the chancellor, it’s not a new introduction that we’re making here. The chancellor is already known and is the president of the Republic. We’re not making any amendment about the chancellor at all.
In my tenure, with the privilege of being in this tenure, we have never delayed any graduation. It is on time.
The chancellor is a ceremonial post with the most prominent person in that nation.
We take our first citizen proudly as our most prominent person.
It’s in the statutes and we don’t have any problems with that.