HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) yesterday piled on the pressure on the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) describing the doctorate awarded to first lady Grace Mugabe last week as a “Genetically Modified Doctorate” which has shamed local academia.
Samuel Gwenzi, the Zinasu national coordinator, said the doctorate awarded to President Robert Mugabe’s wife from the flagship UZ was bogus and a mockery to thousands of students genuinely seeking to pursue studies.
Grace’s amazing achievement, which came without any known Masters’ degree she had undertaken, caused a storm not only in the academia but among ordinary people.
The outcry went viral on social media given the background that when Grace attempted university studies more than a decade ago with a London University, she reportedly attained marks less than 10 percent in several subjects.
Three years ago, there were unconfirmed reports that Grace was studying for an undisclosed degree with a Chinese university.
Zinasu yesterday launched into an unrestrained attack on UZ saying the country’s education system had gone to the dogs.”
“Unless they strip her of such a ridiculous, popcorn and bogus doctorate, UZ will continue to be a den of crooks, oppressors and dictators,” Gwenzi said.
“Let those that studied graduate whilst those that did not remain “O” Level holders.”
The First Lady’s PhD thesis is mysteriously missing on the UZ website.
While the thesis for Vice President Joice Mujuru , who graduated along with the first lady with a doctorate is available on the UZ website, a search for Grace’s thesis has yielded nothing.
UZ vice chancellor Levy Nyagura has remained tight-lipped as the scandal festers on.
Grace’s controversial doctorate from UZ is in sociology. She reportedly studied the case of children’s homes in Zimbabwe, a subject that comes as no surprise, since she runs an orphanage in Mazowe, north of Harare.
Academics at UZ have reportedly questioned Grace’s doctorate amid indications that they want to launch a major protest with the university authorities questioning how the first lady broke all world records to earn the degree in record time.
Tinashe Mashambo, UZ Student Representative Council (SRC) president yesterday said Grace’s degree was dubious.
“As the SRC president, I believe that the issuing of a dubious degree to Grace Mugabe is a clear demonstration that with money and power you can do anything,” he said.
Mashambo said the SRC will not recognise the PhD.
“It is actually an insult to doctorate holders the moment we refer to her as Dr Grace,” Mashambo said.
“As you get a doctorate, it is expected that one will have written articles but as for Grace, there is not even a newspaper article she wrote before we even go to the academic article.
“As Zimbabweans, this is a clear sign how a country has become corrupt even in the academic sector. UZ SRC refuses to recognise Amai Mugabe as Dr Grace because this would be an insult to real doctors.”
Gift Ostallos, a student activist at UZ, said: “Everyone should earn a degree and not have donated degrees. We are seeing some people deliberately abusing the powers vested in them to donate degrees.
“She did not deserve it and we believe that doctorate will not change the way she reasons and her intellectual capacity.”
Ostallos said it was surprising that the first lady’s thesis was not in the UZ library.
“There is no academic record for Grace in the library,” Ostallos said.
“Her research is not there in the library. The University Council failed to provide answers to our questions. We are left guessing as to what really transpired.”
Gift Maphosa, a student at the UZ, said Grace did not deserve the doctorate.
Maphosa said: “I believe the process was marred by irregularities. She was not supposed to be awarded that doctorate. She didn’t deserve it.
“Zanu PF is meddling in UZ affairs and we are seeing the infighting now coming to tertiary institutions. UZ should not be used as a tool for the party’s forthcoming congress. Grace was given a doctorate without much effort and this has lowered the standards of the university and this is most unfortunate to say the least.”