The rot of fake qualifications is nothing new in South Africa. Its increase is simply because it was left unchecked for too long without verifying with academic institutions. Unscrupulous individuals go to the extreme to pay for fake qualifications, and have no shame in producing fraudulent documents to support their curricula vitae - compromising integrity.
Referring to the fake qualifications rot as something not uncommon in South Africa came with my time in the media in the 1980's as an employee at the defunct weekly newspaper Tribute which was based in the North-West town of Klerksdorp. The publication was managed by a gentleman known as Cayenne as the editor and my immediate senior journalist was Abe (both are late).
The editor claimed to have had a BA degree in Human Resource Management obtained at the Fort Hare University. The editor's fake qualifications became a talking point after his death. He used to deliver speeches at the newspaper's yearly corporate social event titled Against All Odds at which he presented a CV with fake qualifications.
Through this event he qualified his fake qualifications in a way, and thus earned the respect of the public while in fact he deceived people.The corporate initiative was aimed at encouraging excellence in education among the local high schools, targeting matriculants in the township of Matlosana. It was our task, Abe and mine, to venture into the township to identify the deserving candidates. At the event Abe and I laughed our lungs out that the editor was a dummy as he had faked his qualifications. Unknowingly, Abe too also faked his qualifications. Abe's obituary read he had a diploma in Journalism from the University of South Africa (Unisa) - very much to my surprise having known him for years. The lie to misrepresent their qualifications followed the two men to their graves as their obituary had read as such.
Both these guys could have easily obtained any qualification if they pursued it. The two guys, including myself, matriculated at the Mampoi Secondary School in Qwaqwa. The duo were drop-outs of the University of the North (now University of Limpopo).
It is on this basis I state that we have in South Africa people who unashamedly fake their qualifications. Therefore, the growing number of South Africans misrepresenting their academic achievements is not new.
Convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, who had a longstanding friendship with Pres. Jacob Zuma, faked his qualifications. He claimed he was a member of a professional organisation in an attempt to match his learned siblings. Shaik claimed he had a master's in Business Administration and two degrees from the United Kingdom and America.
One of my preferred politicians, Pallo Jordan, whom I held in high esteem as an independent political commentator who always called a spade a spade, faked doctorate qualifications. As if that is not enough, Ellen Tshabalala, the SABC's board chairperson, claims to have attained a BCom degree and a post-graduate diploma in Labour Relations at Unisa, which the institution has refuted. Instead of producing proof of qualifications to rest the matter, Tshabalala saw it fit to go to court for protection.
It is my strongly held view that the private and public sector must verify with academic institutions the qualifications of people they appoint to key positions to end the fake qualifications rot.
Moeti Molelekoa -Social observer