‘‘Rona kana re lesego because we have two doctors in our party. Lenna ke dira my PhD and next year I will be called a doctor, bo doctor jo re bo berekelang eseng jwabo President Ian Khama jo ba bo fiwang’’- The Argus Online quotes Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Sydney Pilane bragging about how his party is blessed with educated PhD holders while making fun of President Ian Khama’s honorary doctorate during the BMD’s congress in Lobatse this past weekend.
It will be hard to blame Pilane for thinking his party is blessed with men who extended their tertiary education within the academia to obtain the honour of a Doctorate, because he is not the only one who has been lulled into the belief. The public and the media have all along stated that there are two PhD holders in the BMD leadership, being the party’s vice president Dr Tlamelo Mmatli and Dr Wilson Moseki Thupeng, who served in the party’s interim leadership during its formative years and remains an activist.
The Botswana Gazette can however confirm that the proper honorific or title for Thupeng is ‘Mr’ and not ‘Dr’ as he has not been bestowed a doctoral academic qualification, let alone an honorary one as is the case with Dr Ian Khama.
Thupeng, a lecturer in the Department of Statistics at the University of Botswana (UB) has not protested against the title of “Dr” when used by his political colleagues and media practitioners though fully aware that he does not qualify to be addressed as such. At all political gatherings that he attends, he is introduced to the public as ‘Dr Thupeng’ and this has led to local media also addressing him as such, Dr Thupeng.
Thupeng’s name came into prominence when he, together with other BDP members, were expelled from the party after attending the famous ‘Big Five Lodge Meeting’ against the party’s instructions. This was at the height of BDP’s factions that led to the formation of the BMD where Thupeng served as part of the interim leadership when the party was founded in 2010. Thupeng has not come forth to rectify this anomaly in the manner Botswana Congress Party (BCP) legislator Dithapelo Keorapetse did when the media addressed him as “Dr” Keorapetse when he did not have any doctoral academic qualification.
It is not clear how or why the honorific has been bestowed on Thupeng by the party faithful, whether as a term of endearment or in recognition to his role in the formation of the party, but information gathered by this publication suggests he once attempted to study for a PhD degree in South Africa but did not complete the academic requirements. In either instance it cannot be claimed to form the basis of touting the party as having multiple Phd holders. Interestingly though, the UB website where Thupeng’s qualifications are recorded does not mention a PhD qualification, meaning he only enjoys the ‘Doctor’ title outside the boundary walls of UB where he is a lecturer. According to information on the university’s website, Thupeng holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from (UB) and a Master of Science MSc degree from University of Sheffield in England.
Thupeng did not respond to questions sent to his official email address. When contacted on numerous occasions over the phone, he informed this publication that he would call back but never did. In a follow up telephone call by this publication, Thupeng hung up on the reporter.