US: Massachusetts revokes Mugabe's honorary degree

The University of Massachusetts has revoked an honorary degree conferred on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe 22 years ago - the first time in its 145-year history that the institution has done so. "Rescinding an honorary degree is a step to be taken in only the rarest and most grievous of circumstances," a press statement released by the US university quoted Robert J Manning, chairman of the Board of Trustees, as saying.

"We have decided to break the link between Robert Mugabe's name and this university's own good name." Last week's decision by the 21-member Board of Trustees was unanimous. Faced by the same recommendation last year, the board voted to only rebuke Mugabe for what it termed policies and practices that have "brought worldwide scorn". The university's leaders agreed to look at further action, resulting in the latest step of withdrawing the honorary doctor of laws degree.

"One year later (after the rebuke), with the elections process in Zimbabwe illustrating just how far Robert Mugabe has fallen, the University of Massachusetts has no choice but to take this ultimate step," said the school's President, Jack Wilson.

Last year, the University of Edinburgh revoked a degree it bestowed in 1984 on the aging autocrat while the Michigan State University is expected to review its 1990 decision to honour Mugabe. - Clemence Manyukwe.