Grace's PhD damages UZ image

HARARE - Zimbabweans from across the political, academic and social divide are still expressing outrage over the awarding of a PhD degree by the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) to President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, two weeks ago.

Grace was awarded a doctorate in sociology at the UZ where she was capped by Mugabe, the institution’s chancellor.

It is understood that for her thesis, Grace conducted a study of children’s homes in the country, a subject that comes as no surprise, since she runs an orphanage in Mazowe, north of Harare. She was reportedly conferred her first degree in Chinese language from the People’s University of China in 2011.

Apart from the outrage on social media over the conferment, Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has also described Grace’s doctorate as a “Genetically Modified Doctorate” which has shamed local academia.

Zinasu is demanding a full investigation and has reportedly written to Parliament requesting the legislators to probe the PhD degree award.

The Daily News on Sunday spoke to some analysts who felt the UZ erred as the “bogus degree” reduces the academic standards and standing of the institution.

Political activist Tabani Moyo says the UZ has been robbed of a very rich academic history.

“Its brand value has been seriously dented by the alleged issuance of academic rewards to non-deserving persons.

“Any university under such circumstances will suffer from serious corporate image damage, which weakens its competitive performance,” says Moyo.

He believes if the university remains in denial by not speaking out on this millennium academic mystery, the perceptions will become the forgoing reality.

“The university is under serious local and international pressure to prove its weight by coming out clean.

“Since the university is a state entity, it has an obligation to speak out on this millennium mystery less the institution exposes the lives of the thousands of students on line as it denigrates into academic pariah institution,” says Tabani.

He said in essence the students and lecturers should take the institution to court so that corrective measures are taken.

Celebrated and published writer Chenjerai Hove says as a graduate of the UZ, he is now no longer proud to have studied there.

“I am actually ashamed by this conduct whereby all procedures for awarding degrees are flouted left right and centre. We are dealing with the integrity of our oldest university, and this makes our degrees cheap.

“If the UZ does not withdraw this bogus degree, those like us who graduated after hard work should all demand that the institution accepts a mass withdrawal of our degrees.”

Legislator Jessie Fungayi Majome says the dubious dishing out of the doctorate desecrated the UZ qualification and undermined the institution’s reputation and status.

“From now on, UZ qualifications are tainted with incredibility. Serious conflict of interest also arises; compounding the suspiciousness of the qualification as the all-powerful Head of State and government awards his wife a degree at a State University.”

Playwright Daves Guzha says as a non-academic himself who prides himself in the direction he chose, he fails to understand what drives a person to discredit one of the few remaining unchallenged and globally acceptable cornerstones of the country.

“Surely, in a country whose political professions and business ownership is not pinned on academic prowess was this necessary?

“I think people should feel comfortable with the skin they are wearing without causing violence to our clean academic standing.”

A Daily News on Sunday reader Taura Chokwadi believes a doctoral degree — whether honorary or earned — says something about the person.

“When it is honorary, it is an acknowledgement of service to the community on the back of a life of integrity and so a university that grants such an honour will be making a statement that they wish to be associated with such a person.

“Should persons awarded honorary degrees fall from grace, these can be revoked. In the case of Grace, her doctoral degree award is said to have been an academic achievement. It is for this reason that it is a matter of public interest.

“If she honestly got it, there is no problem, but there appears to be many suspicions because legitimate questions have not been answered or clarified by the UZ authorities and the particular department that oversaw the work.”

For the preservation of academic integrity at UZ, Chokwadi says they should post the doctoral dissertation on the internet or publish it in book form as others do so that interested persons may read for themselves Grace’s depth of thought and contribution to academic discourse.

“Failure to do this will be damaging to UZ and other universities. Let us maintain academic standards for the future of our country. We need authentic, transparent, verifiable and sensible certification of qualifications.

“It is not only UZ which should respond to this doctoral award; the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education which oversees educational standards ought to make a response too.”

Comments (10)

Grace has DisGraced the PhD

Dereck - 29 September 2014

I'm not proud to be associated with the UZ and I will be posting a copy of the degree certificate to the Registrar as a symbolic gesture

SD - 29 September 2014

I have never spoken let alone learn Ndebele in my life.Surely how can I do Ndebele at degree level,a language I never learnt in my whole life? How could Grace do a Chinese language at degree level when in actual fact she never spoke that language ever since she was born? Who really needs a Chinese language in a country where English is the official language?Of what use will this Chinese language be in Zimbabwe? What happened to the English language degree Grace was studying with a London university?It is simply not true that Grace holds any meaningful degree whatsoever.

manyepo chete - 30 September 2014

Do your phds. You are bitter coz she beat you to the punch. UZ my foot. its credibility will never be dented by political tears

Musa - 5 October 2014

Musa, wakananzviswa na Grace iwewe!

Johno - 9 October 2014

shame on you musa

ndururani - 18 October 2014

What image are you talking about here? The so called image is long, long gone more so during the tenure of politically appointed Nyagura who foolishly thinks he is the only one who understands how universities are run especially when it comes to awarding FAKE PhDs in order to hold onto his job. What myopic naivety!!!

Zviripi Apa - 30 October 2014

Zviri Apa I bet you dont even know what the hell you are talking about. whats so naive abt Grace"s phd, she is not the first phd holder and either is she going to be the last. dont take you political grudges here, find yourself something to study and i bet most of you guys ran away from our motherland years ago

proudly uz - 31 October 2014

Masters Degree + PhD in less than 3 years. Pafunge!!!!!!!!!!

Jono - 31 October 2014

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