THE Philanthropy Institute of Zimbabwe (PIZ), which recently stirred controversy when it dished out dubious honorary doctorate degrees to music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and nine other prominent personalities, is back in the limelight after naming First Lady Grace Mugabe as the Philanthropist of the Year.
Grace is among the 12 other prominent people who were named philanthropists of the year 2014 in various fields among them business tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya, swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry and Mtukudzi.
The award to the First Lady comes just a week after she graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Zimbabwe.
The PhD has raised eyebrows as it was not clear when Grace started her studies.
PIZ chief facilitator Enrico Sibanda said the honours his organisation bestowed on the First Lady was in recognition of her “outstanding” work helping needy people across the country.
“We have named these people and organisations in recognition of the work they had done to transform Zimbabwe,” Sibanda said.
PIZ also named Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Families International Church as the Religious Philanthropist of the Year. Chiyangwa was named “Celebrity Philanthropist” of the Year while Magaya was the “Emerging” Philanthropist of the Year.
Mtukudzi was named Tourism Philanthropist of the Year, Kirsty Coventry was named Sports Philanthropist of the Year, and Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner general Augustine Chihuri’s wife Isabel was named Woman Philanthropist of the Year.
Isabel is also a beneficiary PIZ’s honorary doctorate degree.
Econet Wireless was named the Corporate Philanthropist of the Year.
The late Jairos Jiri was given the life time achievement philanthropist of the year award.
PIZ in June conferred Doctorate degrees of Humane Letters to Mtukudzi, Makandiwa’s wife Ruth and various other Zimbabweans for outstanding philanthropist work.
The degrees torched a storm with academics rubbishing the accolades which can only be conferred by universities or institutions affiliated to universities.
Zimbabwe Council of Higher Examination issued a statement condemning the doctorate degrees. But Sibanda who claimed he had been legally mandated to confer such degrees has since said he would take the council to court over its statement.
He argued they were not academic degrees and there was no need to affiliate his organisation to a degree-conferring university.