Nyagura trial over Grace Mugabe's 'fake' PhD stayed

HARARE - The trial of former University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura has been temporarily halted pending the outcome of a Constitutional Court (Con-Court) appeal challenging his prosecution.

Nyagura is being charged with criminal abuse of office after he allegedly awarded a “bogus” PhD to former first lady Grace Mugabe.

Nyagura was arrested in February by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission following an investigation into the PhD.

It emerged that Grace was awarded the degree by the university in 2014 after just months of study.

Doctorates typically require several years of full-time research and writing.

Nyagura’s trial was supposed to commence yesterday.

Through his lawyer Lewis Uriri, the suspended vice chancellor approached the upper court complaining that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special anti-corruption unit had no authority to prosecute him.

Initially, Nyagura unsuccessfully challenged the special team before Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube ruled that trial should commence.

Following this ruling, Uriri directly approached the Con-Court, and proceedings at the magistrate’s court have been stayed pending the Con-Court verdict.

Nyagura argued that his right to a fair trial would be trivialised allegedly because the prosecution team was captured by the State.

Nyagura yesterday formally sought postponement of trial pending the outcome of the Con-Court ruling.

“The postponement is sought on the ground that the Con-Court matter that was supposed to be heard last Friday was postponed to today (yesterday) at 11 before Chief Justice Luke Malaba,” Uriri told the court.

The State, represented by Tapiwa Godzi, opposed the postponement of trial arguing that this was another case of deliberate delaying tactic on the part of the defence counsel.

Godzi said: “The State is not pleased by the manner in which the defence is conducting themselves.

“The Con-Court matter doesn’t have anything to do with this case.

“It was postponed but not for the Con-Court to make deliberations.”

Ncube however granted the stay of prosecution pending the Con-Court ruling.

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

The court heard that Nyagura then appointed professors Mararike and Chaneta to supervise Mugabe’s thesis without the board’s approval.

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

Sometime in 2014, Nyagura allegedly led supervisors and examiners to Mugabe’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.

A copy of the 226-page doctoral thesis, titled “The Changing Social Structure and Functions of the Family” was only published in January following public calls for Grace to be stripped of her PhD.

Critics had argued that Grace had not actually studied or undertaken research to earn the doctorate.

She was personally capped by her husband and then-president Robert Mugabe, who was also the chancellor of the university.

Comments (1)

This fool must be vanquished from academia. just do it already. what a fool.

Moe Syszlack - 31 October 2018

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