By Dr Sylvester Mashamba
The level of ignorance in this country, especially amongst the educated is alarming. There is this new flush to the effect that our current republican President Mr. Edgar Lungu is to be conferred an Honorary Doctorate by UNZA, and already all the educated job seekers have started calling and congratulating our President Ati Doctor Lungu. Indeed, our republican president deserves to be congratulated, but until he actually submits a doctoral thesis, he continues as Mr. Lungu. Those are the rules and guidelines with honorary doctorates, not my rules.
First and foremost, a person with an honorary doctorate can not be referred to as Dr. Honourary degrees have their rules and etiquette. It is for this reason that on this entire planet, only two countries, namely Zambia and Malawi refer to honorary doctorate holders as Doctors. Take for example, Mr. Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela, how many honorary doctorates did each of these hold, but nobody ever refers to them as Dr. this or that. But in Zambia, very politician with an honorary doctorate, some from very questionable universities is called a Doctor.
The trend has gone to religious men and women, a man starts a church with his wife, tomorrow he is pastor this, senior pastor that, or Bishop that or more recently: prophet this or that. Equally among musicians, its General this or colonel that. You need a presidential commission for these ranks.
unfortunately university Professors have joined in this title drama. You open a private university and appoint yourself a professor. Even genuinely appointed professors continue to call themselves professors in retirement or out of the university. The rules say that, Unless you are appointed professor emeritus, the tittle of professor ends immediately you leave the university.
If still in doubt, the rules and etiquette concerning honorary doctorates, professorship, or these military titles you can easily refer to any reputable website or ask from any reputable university for clarification.
I think we now need an Act of parliament to protect these titles.
Sorry, unedited, writing as I wait for my visitor at the airport.