South Africa: former lottery boss claims dubious professorship

Alfred Nevhutanda’s chair acquired from dubious ‘university’

It takes at least a decade of research and teaching, sometimes two or three, to become a professor at a reputable university.

This is not the case of “professor” Alfred Nevhutanda, former chairman of the board of directors of the National Lottery Commission. He has been using the honorary “professor” since receiving an “honorary professor degree” from the International Eco Energy Academy (IEEA) of Azerbaijan in 2007.

He called himself a “professor of environmental science” in his 2009 interview with the House of Commons Trade, Industry and Competition Committee, after which he was appointed to the National Lottery Board.

Asked by GroundUp to provide details of a track record that would justify receiving an honorary professorship, Nevhutanda replied via email: “Mine is an ‘honorary’ professorship not a degree.”

Nevhutanda holds a doctorate in art education and has some teaching experience at a college in Limpopo. But his honorary professorship was awarded in the field of energy development, a field in which he has no academic background.

Nevhutanda was active in several coal and energy companies and submitted a paper to the IEEA in 2007. But in 2012, AmaBhungane reported that the paper had been plagiarized. (Nevhutanda’s spokesperson disputed the allegation in AmaBhungane’s report.)

“Even people who have no formal education are awarded such qualifications, sometimes based on the work they do for the community. Once rewarded, these are legally their qualifications,” Nevhutanda wrote in a second. email to GroundUp. .

But IEEA is not accredited as an academic institution by any reputable authority.

IEEA President Fagan Aliyev calls himself a “professor” at Oxford University. But he received an honorary professorship from the Academic Union of Oxford, an institution that allegedly sells bogus degrees and awards to scholars and businessmen at high prices.

Farhad Aliyev, the vice president of the IEEA, received his doctorate from Atlantic International University, accredited only by the International College Accreditation Service, which is not recognized as legitimate accreditation.

The IEEA website claims that the organization conducts research projects on sustainable energy development. It also publishes distance education degrees up to doctoral level, but does not publish any accreditation.

In South Africa and most places in the world, the title of “professor” is awarded by academic institutions to people who are experts in their field. It is the highest rank in an academic institution.

Professors are usually appointed to an institution when candidates display an impressive record of expertise and contribution to the institution.

Honorary professorships exist but are only awarded by South African universities in very specific circumstances. The University of Cape Town, for example, awards honorary professorships to “eminent persons” who are either senior members of an institution associated with the university or who contribute significantly to the university through their “achievements and distinctions in their professional activities”.

According to Elijah Moholola, UCT Media Liaison Officer, no specific duties are required of Honorary Professors, but they must make an ongoing contribution to the university by being a member of an institution closely affiliated with UCT. , or by teaching or carrying out professional activities that add to the prestige and scholarship of the university.

In some cases, however, the appointment expires after a specified period, usually five years, after which it will be renewed.

Elsewhere in the world, honorary professors are often required to make an ongoing contribution to the institution, usually through lectures, seminars, or the supervision of doctoral students. In the UK, appointments are made for a fixed term, usually three years, and renewal is possible. But Nevhutanda’s price was unique as far as we could be sure.

Nireen Naidoo, head of governance, people and strategy at the South African Qualifications Authority, told GroundUp that honors “are not recognized outside of the institution that bestowed the title”. She said an honorary award “can only be used within the framework of that institution, such as at their graduation ceremonies or at a guest lecture at that institution. It has no value outside of the institution and therefore cannot be used in the general context.”

Nevhutanda declined to comment on our questions about the legitimacy of the IEEA. The IEEA could not be reached for comment.

Nevhutanda’s tenure on the National Lottery Commission was fraught with difficulties. GroundUp recently reported how Nevhutanda used lottery funds, channeled through lottery recipients, to help pay for a R27 million mansion. An organization that employed her daughter received R41 million in lottery funding.

Nevhutanda denied the corruption allegations.

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