Freeman Razemba and Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura was arrested yesterday on allegations of abuse of office over the awarding of a Doctor of Philosophy degree to former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Prof Nyagura was arrested in Harare and is likely to appear in court today.
Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) spokesperson Ms Phyllis Chikundura confirmed the arrest.
“Yes, he has been arrested on allegations of abuse of office over the doctorate of former First Lady Grace Mugabe,” she said. “He is detained at Mabelreign Police Station and he will appear in court tomorrow (today).”
Prof Nyagura is being accused of unprocedurally awarding the Doctor of Philosophy degree without the approval of both the University Council and the Senate Committee.
He recently blasted lecturers in the Department of Sociology for challenging the awarding of the contentious doctorate, saying they were “ignorant Messrs and doctors”, with no academic capacity to supervise a PhD student.
In a recent interview with our Harare Bureau on demands by 10 lecturers for the university to revoke Mrs Mugabe’s PhD, Prof Nyagura said PhD students were supervised by the post-graduate centre and not by a teaching department.
He dismissed allegations that the thesis was not in the library until this year, but was deposited in 2014.
Prof Nyagura said Mrs Mugabe’s thesis was supervised by two professors, who also supervised former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Supervised by Professor Claude Mararike, Mrs Mugabe graduated with the Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Social Studies in September 2014.
Through their lawyer, Ms Fiona Iliff from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the lecturers said they were shocked to hear that Mrs Mugabe had been awarded a doctorate from their department when they never saw her application, acceptance letter, supervision and even awarding of the degree.
The 10 lecturers were Prof Rudo Gaidzanwa, Drs Sandra Bhatasara, Julius Musevenzi, Watch Ruparanganda, Gutsa, Mandizadza, Sadomba, Mate and Messrs Nelson Muparamoto and a T Chevo.
With regards to Professor Mararike’s appointment, the lecturers alleged that he was appointed without their consultation as stipulated in the ordinance regulations.
The arrest of Prof Nyagura came after a Harare magistrate had issued a warrant empowering ZACC to search and seize all documents relevant to its probe on whether or not he corruptly awarded Mrs Mugabe the doctoral degree.
Provincial magistrate Mr Elisha Singano directed the UZ registrar or any other senior official at the institution to provide a set of relevant documents, records and articles to the investigators.
The documents ordered to be availed included Dr Mugabe’s pre-registration application form, her research proposal submitted to the Department of Sociology, minutes of the departmental board assigning a supervisor to Mrs Mugabe, academic certificates of her supervisor, minutes showing that the doctoral degree passed through the Academic Committee, and minutes of the UZ senate recommending to the university council the conferment of the doctorate on Mrs Mugabe.
Mr Singano directed the university to allow ZACC access to minutes of the University Council recommending to the University Chancellor the conferment of the doctorate on Mrs Mugabe, copies of progress reports at Post Graduate Centre, copies of contract of research assistant and contract of teaching assistant in respect of Mr Justice Tandire.
ZACC must also be furnished with the UZ Faculty Ordinance number 44, UZ quality assurance guidelines and benchmarks for management and supervision of higher degrees by research, General Academic Regulations for Post-Graduate Degrees of the university of Zimbabwe 1998/99 Volume 11, as well as copies of the transcript, notification and Doctor of Philosophy Degree awarded to Mrs Mugabe.
UZ has since filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court to set aside the search warrant, arguing that it was illegal.