BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A HARARE court yesterday deferred to tomorrow the ruling on an application for exception to the charges filed by the just-retired University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura who is facing criminal abuse of office charges.
Deputy chief magistrate Elijah Makomo said the presiding magistrate and acting chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi were engaged with other duties and will pass the ruling on Thursday.
Nyagura is accused of singlehandedly awarding former First Lady Grace Mugabe a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PHD) . The accused is insisting that the degree remains valid until current chancellor and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, revoked it after former President Robert Mugabe approved it.
Nyagura had submitted that the degree in question remains extant and its validity cannot be questioned by a criminal process since section 7 of the University of Zimbabwe Act reposes the power to rescind and set aside degrees in the chancellor.
He submitted that the matter was administrative and had no criminal sanction. Nyagura further said the case had no complainant and wrong remedies had been pursued since the criminal court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
But the State represented by Michael Chakandida and Tapiwa Godzi distanced Mnangagwa and Mugabe from the case saying their roles were restricted to capping students and reading speeches.
Allegations are that on sometime in 2011, Nyagura singlehandedly accepted and approved Ntombizodwa G Marufu (Grace’s maiden name)’s application to study a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Sociology without the knowledge and recommendations of the departmental board and faculty of higher degrees committee in violation of UZ quality assurance, guidelines and benchmark.
It is alleged that during the same period, Nyagura covertly appointed Professors Claude Mararike to supervise Marufu’s thesis without the knowledge and approval of the department board of sociology who are mandated to accept applications and allocate supervisors to students in terms of general academic regulations.
Nyagura allegedly led supervisors and examiners to Marufu’s Mazowe Estate where the defence oral examinations were purportedly done without the knowledge and approval of the academic committee while, in fact, the oral examination was supposed to be done at the UZ premises.
Nyagura allegedly abused his position after showing favour to Marufu who did not meet the minimum requirements to study the degree. It is alleged Nyagura’s action had the effect of discrediting Zimbabwe’s education system, thereby affecting its international ranking and raising doubt about qualifications from Zimbabwe’s institution of higher learning.