President Robert Mugabe returned home from New York on Saturday night amid reports he had cancelled an onward trip to Quito, Ecuador in South America, to receive an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from a Christian university run by the Anglican Church of the Province of Ecuador.
The legitimacy of the honorary doctorate is being challenged.
The head of the Anglican Church of Ecuador, Dr Walter Roberto Crespo, announced the conferment of the degree during a visit to Harare last month.
President Mugabe expressed gratitude to the “Ecuadorians” saying: “We are very grateful and appreciative of the generosity that has come from Ecuador to us. We shall receive the conferment of the honorary degree on our way from the United Nations (UN) Summit in the United States next month.”
Dr Crespo was accompanied by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and the Bishop of Manicaland Elson Jakazi. Dr Crespo’s church has close ties with Bishop Kunonga’s breakaway Anglican Church.
President Mugabe had been scheduled to travel to Ecuador did not proceed as originally planned.
Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu said the programme was postponed to December because of “time constraints”.
“It was deferred due to time constraints,” Shamu said. “As you are aware, there is a 17th Climate Change Convention to be held in Mexico in December. His Excellency is going there and he will then fulfil that commitment.”
It emerged last week that Dr Crespo was heading an illegitimate church and that he was a controversial character.
Shamu declined to comment on the controversy surrounding Dr Crespo and his church.
Dr Crespo was arrested in 2001 for supplying arms of war to a Colombian guerilla group, the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).