THE furore over former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s PhD degree awarded by the University of Zimbabwe in 2014 has claimed its first scalp after the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission arrested the institution of higher learning’s vice-chancellor, Levi Nyagura.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Nyagura was picked up late yesterday by Zacc officials and will appear in court today.
“We picked him up and took him into custody, where he will stay overnight. He will appear in court tomorrow (today) on charges of abuse of office,” Zacc spokesperson, Phylis Chikundura said.
Nyagura and another lecturer and former Sociology Department chairman, Claude Mararike, who reportedly was Grace’s supervisor, have been under investigation over how the degree was awarded.
The investigation was triggered by a complaint by 15 lecturers from the department, who claimed they never saw Grace’s study transcripts, progress reports or thesis. Grace was awarded the “earned” degree when her husband former President Robert Mugabe was also chancellor of all State universities.
UZ only published Grace’s thesis four years after she graduated against international best practices, but it showed material attributed to years after the degree was conferred.
In a petition to Zacc, the UZ Sociology Department described the awarding of the degree as “very suspicious”.
Interestingly, other candidates, including former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who graduated on the same day with her, have all made their theses publicly available. Mugabe’s wife graduated with a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Faculty of Social Studies in September 2014.
Grace was among 3 274 graduands who were capped by Mugabe.
In the petition to Zacc, the UZ Sociology Department called for the immediate revocation, nullification and withdrawal of Grace’s doctorate by the university, a full investigation by the authorities into the abuse of office, corruption and other maladministration practices they say undermined the institution’s integrity and progress, adding “this seems only a tip of the iceberg”.
Nyagura reacted by accusing the lecturers of lacking the requisite qualifications to have monitored Grace’s progress during her “studies”.
The fuming academics, however, demanded a formal investigation to determine whether Grace’s degree and other administrative practices do not violate Chapter 9, sections 194, 196-198 of the Constitution in relation to the governing of the UZ as a public institution.