Fraud: Dar University to cancel degrees Students in a library at the University of Dar es Salaam. Photo/University of Dar es Salaam By JOSEPH MWAMUNYANGE THE EAST AFRICAN Posted Saturday, November 22 2008 at 08:49 Dar es Salaam University may be forced to withdraw degree certificates conferred on some of its graduates over forged documents they submitted prior to joining the university. This follows the investigation of more than 20 people by university authorities after it was discovered that they used forged secondary education certificates to gain admission to degree courses. The discovery is expected to lead to the beginning of a series of arrests of people who are said to possess forged credentials that they have used to obtain important positions in both the private sector and government. It could also trigger a crackdown on the degree mills currently proliferating in the country. Already, in one case, an employee at the University of Dar es Salaam last week had a degree conferred on him by the same institution in 1987 withdrawn after it was discovered that he had forged his way onto the campus. Forgeries have become part of everyday life in Tanzania, including in the recent cases involving money siphoned out of the Bank of Tanzanias External Payment Arrears (EPA) account using forged documents. Concern has been rising that with many people in its labour force possessing forged credentials, Tanzania will be at a disadvantage in the East African Communitys Common Market when free movement of labour in the region becomes a reality. Prof Makenya Maboko, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic, Research and Consultancy), told The EastAfrican that there were more staff at the university who had been discovered to have gained entry unlawfully by using forged documents. Prof Maboko said more than 20 people are under investigation, and once the procedure is complete, the public will be informed. However, he did not mention names. After undertaking a verification exercise on documents tendered by newly recruited staff, we discovered that quite a number of these people had applied knowing full well that some of the documents in their possession were not genuine, he said. Earlier, in a notice to the public from the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), it was stated: Effective from October 28, 2008, the University of Dar es Salaam has withdrawn a Bachelor of Arts (Education) degree award wrongfully conferred on one Charles I. Ngimba at the University of Dar es Salaam congregation held on August 29, 1987. The notice further stated: This measure was taken after Mr Ngimba was found guilty of using forged certificates to unlawfully gain admission to the university. Consequently, Mr Ngmba has been ordered to return to the University of Dar es Salaam the degree certificate that he was wrongfully awarded. A legislator from the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, who also chaired the famous Richmond Committee, told The EastAfrican that while the country was preparing to enter into an expanded labour market, continuing with the forgeries will render our labour force uncompetitive in the expanded market because employers will only go for the best and nothing less. Dr Mwakyembe said that, together with Prof Peter Msola, Minister for Communications, Science and Technology, who sounded the alarm on fake degrees and other forgeries, he had made a lot of noise in parliament, but no concerted action has to date been taken to stem the rampant malpractices. According to Dr Mwakyembe, the problem was more profound than people were led to believe: It cuts across the board, from the bottom to senior government officials, managers, politicians and others in high office. So it is proper for the University of Dar es Salaam to withdraw the degree. This will serve as a lesson to others. However, Dr Mwakyembe said more effort needs to be made by the government to arrest the situation as the problem is compounded by the fact that parents are now ready to buy examinations for their children just to make sure they progress in life. Leakage of examinations is the order of the day this adds to the erosion of academic credentials. It will take a long time to reverse if it is left to go on unabated, said Dr Mwakyembe, adding: We must take the bull by the horns; its now or never. Dr Clinton Galabawa from the University of Dar es Salaam said: Most probably there was a system failure somewhere, so we need to address the issue as a nation. It is also a question of individual values, which in most cases have declined. The academician said tougher measures need to be taken immediately such things happen, or people will start thinking that if so-and-so did it and got away with it, then I too can do it. Dr Galabawa said, We as a country must deal with this problem by taking stringent measures because there are many such people in society who have gotten away with these forgeries, including people in government, civil society and private enterprise. However, Dr Charles Kimei, managing director of CRDB Bank Ltd, criticised the university, saying that it was upon it to vet the candidate before he joined instead of withdrawing a degree studied for by Mr Ngimba because he forged a certificate to enter the university; if he managed to cope with his studies, then this person is very bright as otherwise he would have been discontinued. Dr Kimei further said that even though he was not in support of forgery, the case in point was unique due to the fact that the person from whom the university had withdrawn the degree didnt steal the degree but studied for it with people who may also have joined the university by stealing examinations. Early this month, the Higher Education Students Loan Board in collaboration with the Dar es Salaam police arrested Joseph Mbago, a Form VI graduate from Malangali Secondary School, Iringa region, for forgery of certificates. He forged an advanced certificate of secondary education, obtained a loan from the board and successfully proceeded to join the University of Dodoma to undertake a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in the current academic year. The forgery was discovered after the board cross-checked with the National Examination Council of Tanzania. The board is still working on 13 similar cases before taking legal action against those involved. Six employees at the Bank of Tanzania were last month arraigned for having used forged certificates to obtain employed at the countrys top bank. Their cases are still pending in the courts of law. The Police College in Moshi has not been spared the forgeries nightmare. It recently discovered that some of the potential recruits had forged certificates and on questioning vanished, never to return to the college. There is a strong belief among academics and politicians that some of the doctor titles affixed to high-profile names were obtained from degree mills, spread throughout the world, which were now making a killing from selling fake degrees.