UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe’s Department of Sociology has broken silence concerning the awarding of former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s doctorate degree and have since declared the qualification as fake and illegal.
The department, which has since revealed that the PhD was earned without the university’s knowledge and involvement, has since engaged Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who have since written to UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura compelling him to revoke the doctorate degree and nullify it immediately as well as making a public statement concerning the revocation.
The Sociology Department Board has said the awarding of the degree constitutes academic corruption and criminal abuse of office in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) on the part of anyone implicated in awarding the degree at the University.
Grace graduated in 2014 and the University contravened its normal practice of not publishing her 226-page thesis, entitled “The changing social structure and functions of the family: The case of children’s homes in Zimbabwe”.
The thesis was only published last month under the name Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu.
In the letter, the department cites, the fraudulent awarding of the doctorate degree, threats to members of the sociology department and appointment of substantive chair of the department.
Prof Nyagura has been given seven days to respond to the issues, failure of which the department would approach the courts of law for appropriate recourse.
“The candidate earned the degree without the knowledge or involvement of the Sociology Department Board, from the application, acceptance, supervision, examination, to the awarding of the degree.
“The Sociology Department Board has never approved anything in respect of the candidate’s research or thesis.
“The members of Sociology Department Board were shocked at the news that the candidate was awarded the degree by the sociology department,” reads the letter of demand to Prof Nyagura.
The Sociology Department Board said the requisite procedures were not followed and there was complete disregard of University rules, processes and procedures.
“The candidate was therefore not subject to the processes, conditions and standards demanded of all other doctoral candidates within the Department and indeed within the University.
“. . . the Sociology Department Board was not privy to these acts of omissions and commissions, save for the Acting Chairperson of the Board, Professor C (Claude) Mararike, who was apparently the candidate’s supervisor,” the letter of demand reads.
The Sociology Department Board also claims that the quality of the final product was not controlled by qualified professionals “if at all research was conducted to warrant conferment of such a degree.”
Prof Nyagura is also accused of appointing Prof Mararike as the acting Chairperson of the Sociology Department Board when he (Prof Mararike) is on a temporary contract with the University.
The Sociology Department Board said the appointment was in breach of sections 4.2 and 4.7 of Ordinance No. 25 of the University of Zimbabwe in that no consultation with members of the Sociology Department Board was ever done.
Members of Sociology Board claims that Prof Nyagura called a meeting in which he threatened members of the Sociology Board for raising complaints.
“This constitutes abuse of office and silencing members of the Board from complaining on developments within the Department, and this is a violation of their Chapter 4 rights including, but not limited to, their rights to academic freedom in terms of section 61(1)(c) and to administrative justice in terms of section 68 of the Constitution.
The Sociology Department Board demands that Prof Nyagura also retracts threats and acts of intimidation directed to the members of the Sociology Department Board in writing.
Prof Nyagura, the Sociology Department Board, is also required to appoint a substantive Chair of the Sociology Department Board.
Prof Nyagura is still to respond to the letter of demand.