FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice-President Joice Mujuru yesterday graduated with doctorate degrees at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ).
The two were part of the 3 274 graduands who were capped by President Robert Mugabe, who is the Chancellor of UZ.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, UZ Vice-Chancellor Levi Nyagura said yesterday’s graduation was a different one as Mugabe was going to cap his wife Grace.
“This graduation ceremony is a historic event which is very difficult, if not impossible, to repeat in the near future,” Nyagura said.
“Allow me to single out a very special and unique graduand, the First Lady, who shall be presented to you for conferment
of a degree . . . May you also allow me to single out the Vice-President who shall be presented to you for conferment of a degree.”
Grace graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in the Faculty of Social Studies, while Mujuru graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the Faculty of Commerce.
It was not clear when Grace registered for her PhD with UZ. Only a few months ago, it was reported that she had registered for a doctoral degree with the institution and chose a well-known UZ sociology professor as her supervisor.
Grace reportedly possesses a first degree in Chinese Language that she completed in 2011 after four years of distance learning with the People’s University of China.
It could not be established if Grace completed a post-graduate degree course.
In the mid-2000s, there were unconfirmed reports that Grace had been forced to abandon her Bachelor of Arts degree in English course with the University of London due to a string of poor results during an eight-year period.
Mujuru, on the other hand, holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Management with Chinhoyi University.
But it could also not be established when she started her studies with UZ.
Other notable people who graduated yesterday were Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora, who graduated with a PhD in the Faculty of Arts, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs Abigail Damasane, who graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and Patrick Zhuwao, a nephew of President Mugabe, graduated with a Master of Science degree in Economics.
MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa graduated with a Bachelor of Law Honours degree and was also awarded the Law Society Prize while former MDC-T national youth chairperson Solomon Madzore, who is now affiliated with the MDC Renewal Team, graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work Honours degree.
Nyagura bemoaned the brain drain at UZ and called upon government to improve conditions of service.
“The brain drain which we thought had ended is again rearing its ugly head,” Nyagura said. “In order to retain experienced staff, we continue to appeal to government to improve our conditions of service to make us competitive regionally.”
Nyagura also said that UZ had reviewed its curriculum to promote innovation, applications of science and technology, and entrepreneurship.
“Our focus is to produce graduates with a strong foundation in science and technology, and with problem-solving and analytical skills,” Nyagura said. “In particular, we have taken up the responsibility to provide training in nanotechnology together with product development in nanomedicine.”
“We would like to remain competitive as a university, both locally and internationally, and we shall attain this through a process of total quality assurance in all our activities. We are a pioneering university and we like to show the way for others to follow by identifying the right things and doing them right.”
Nyagura said 28 of the graduands were those living with disability, and having them at the university was a way to empower them.
“Students with disabilities have found a caring, intellectually-driven home at the University of Zimbabwe,” Nyagura said.
“This comprehensive affirmative action should not be interpreted as showing sympathy to any student with disability. Instead, it is a means to empower these students so that they become independent citizens of our country. Today I present to you 28 graduands with various disabilities.”
He also said the past academic year had seen a significant number of their strategic partners offering scholarships to support the education of the students.
“We are grateful for this support whereby other players realise that the role of educating our nation and investing in human capital development should not be left to the government alone, but should involve all stakeholders,” Nyagura said.