THE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Council has ordered a probe into the award of a degree to former First Lady Grace Mugabe in 2014.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/KUDZAI MUCHENJEKWA
The probe follows the arrest of UZ vice-chancellor, Levy Nyagura on allegations of criminal abuse of office over Grace’s PhD.
The UZ Council was supposed to meet yesterday to discuss the matter, but the meeting was cancelled under unclear circumstances, prompting a member of the council to lash out angrily.
In a letter to members, UZ registrar, Noah Mutongoreni said the decision had been taken after advice from lawyers.
“Following advice from our lawyers, Messrs Chihambakwe, Mutizwa and Partners legal practitioners, the special council meeting scheduled for Thursday February 22, 2018 has been cancelled,” Mutongoreni said But a member of the council, Thembinkosi Magwaliba reacted angrily to the cancellation.
“The cancellation has serious governance implications, it must have been the council, which should have met and decided not to discuss the issues of the conferment of the degree to Mrs Mugabe and not the lawyers of the university, the registrar or even the council chairman on his own,” he said.
Magwaliba argued that the UZ Council’s power could not be overridden by its lawyers.
“The council employs the vice-chancellor (Nyagura). The council’s employee has been arraigned before the courts and the council has never received a written report on the issues that are the subject of the prosecution.
“I, accordingly, request that the chairman of the council reinstates the meeting and all issues that are supposed to be discussed be discussed at the meeting. The vague opinion from the lawyers has no power to stop lawful business of the council,” Magwaliba said.
In another letter addressed to UZ Council chairman, Buzawani Mothobi, dated February 19, Magwaliba seemed to accuse Nyagura of lying to the council.
“We received a verbal report from the vice-chancellor to the effect that investigations in respect of the matter had been concluded by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and that there were no irregularities found in the manner in which the PhD was awarded.
“Over the past week, however, we have learnt through the media that, in fact, investigations have been ongoing and the vice-chancellor has appeared in court and has been remanded on $200 bail,” Magwaliba said.
He warned that the matter, if not handled carefully, could have devastating implications on governance at UZ, demanding the meeting be rescheduled.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) has called on Zacc to expand their investigations over fraudulent issuance of acquisition of certificates at institutions, including to politicians.
Zinasu said fraudulent behaviour at tertiary institutions was rampant and instituting investigations into such claims will bring back confidence in Zimbabwe’s higher education.
Zinasu secretary-general, Ashleigh Pfunye said: “We won’t tolerate such behaviour, especially when someone denigrates the integrity of our education.”
He said Zacc must look into other universities, colleges and polytechnics to ensure that corrupt academic staff were brought to book.
Zinasu also said Zacc should investigate how academic institutions were utilising funds, as there were reports that money meant for students is being diverted to personal use by top officials.