By Lauren Marx, a senior researcher at Freedom Park
Individuals often state they have completed a degree while they are in fact still in the process of doing so. Some just simply fabricate entire degrees and the institutions where they were issued. While this is often masqueraded as an “educational misrepresentation”, it is nothing more than fraud.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng, was appointed to a position of great responsibility, SABC chief operating officer, but was recently found to not hold a matric certificate.
This exposes a serious problem and dangerous precedent of moral bankruptcy for South Africa and sadly there are several examples of this fraud.
Former ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus was forced to step down in 2009 after it was revealed that he had left a broad trail of financial mismanagement, racking up R4.5 million in debt, and lied about having a master’s degree and a doctorate in theology from the University of Utrecht.
In 2010, the Mail & Guardian exposed the then minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, for not having a master’s degree in political economy from the University of the Free State despite it being listed in his official curriculum vitae on the department’s website.
More recently, Unisa confirmed that SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala does not hold either the BComm or postgraduate degree she has claimed to have on her CV. She went as far as to halt a parliamentary inquiry into whether she lied about her qualifications. ANC intellectual Pallo Jordan lied about possessing the doctoral degree commonly ascribed to him and, furthermore, there is no evidence that he has any undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications at all. To Jordan’s credit, he apologised for the deceit and resigned from Parliament.
Former Sanral board chairwoman, Tembakazi Mnyaka, stated on her CV that she received a master’s degree in town planning from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Perhaps an unhealthy measure of arrogance is demonstrated if these individuals believe they will not be exposed.
Lies, half-truths, bribery and fraud are common place in South African executive echelon and it is therefore not surprising that it took 20 years to expose Jordan’s fraud.
Although a sound education can be a springboard to success, there are examples of dynamic South Africans who have risen to great heights with little formal education.
Sol Plaatje and Herman Mashaba are good examples. Plaatje was a founder member of the ANC and a gifted intellectual, journalist, linguist, politician, translator and writer.
Mashaba rose from humble beginnings to become one of South Africa’s wealthiest and best-known entrepreneurs. These individuals consistently displayed leadership and integrity that led to their legitimate success in life.
There are others who realised the importance of education from an early age and went on to become great and inspirational leaders.
For example, Oliver Tambo’s father could not afford his fees, but Tambo displayed such enthusiasm that the school found sponsorship for him through two British sisters, who sent the sum of £10 (about R20 in those days) every year.
Lindiwe Mazibuko quit her job as the DA’s parliamentary leader to actively further her studies at Harvard University.
There have been claims that fraudulent qualifications are the product of unemployment or the fear thereof. However, the very individuals carrying out this fraud have been in positions of authority for some time.
Legitimate tertiary education is no guarantee of future success, but history dictates that SAA, the SABC, Sanral and other parastatals have been in trouble for a long time.
Therefore, it is only logical to appoint a person into these highly specific and skilled positions who is competent and has a strong track-record of entrepreneurial successes.
The appointment of individuals that lie, cheat and use their connections to get to the top are an embarrassment to South Africa.
They make a mockery of those who have justifiably studied diligently and obtained university degrees. As South African taxpayers we need to hold these people to account and always remember the old mantra that a half-truth should be considered a whole lie.