Nyagura's trial deferred to next month

HARARE - The trial of University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice chancellor Levi Nyagura failed to kick off yesterday as his lawyer was representing President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) where opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is seeking to overturn the Zanu PF’s strongman’s July 30 poll victory.

His trial has been deferred to next month where the Special Corruption Court will hear his case of alleged criminal abuse of office, stemming from a PhD degree awarded to former first lady, Grace Mugabe, by UZ.

This comes as the Higher Education ministry has distanced itself from the case despite being cited as the complainant.

According to State papers, the Higher Education ministry’s permanent secretary made a complaint against Nyagura but the office denied making such a report.

“The ministry would like to register its complaint against Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc). The basis of the complaint is that, we note from court papers that Zacc has been citing the permanent secretary as the complainant in cases involving the University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor as the accused.

“The ministry would like to state that it is not aware of the issues and neither was it involved in making any complaints to Zacc or being involved in investigations leading to the accused person being arraigned before the court for criminal abuse of office…the ministry is not involved in academic issues,” the ministry said in a letter which forms part of the court record.

“The issue is purely academic and is the domain of the university through the council or senate. The ministry only provides administrative oversight to the university and is not qualified to comment, make a determination or give an opinion on whether what was done by the accused person was a criminal offence or not,” it said further.

It is on that basis Nyagura claims that there was no reasonable suspicion warranting his arrest.

According to the State, sometime in 2011 Nyagura single-handedly accepted and approved Grace’s application to study for a PhD in Sociology without the knowledge of the department board and Faculty Higher Degrees Committee.

It is alleged that Nyagura then appointed professors Mararike and Chaneta to supervise her thesis without the board’s approval.

Nyagura is also alleged to have usurped powers and appointed examiners in violation of the University of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 25:16 and Ordinances 1998/99 volume 11 which gives that prerogative to the Senate committee.

Sometime in 2014, Nyagura allegedly led supervisors and examiners to Grace’s Mazowe Estate where the defence oral examination was purportedly done without knowledge and approval of the academic committee.

According to State papers, the oral examination is supposed to be done at the UZ premises.

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