THE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Council has suspended vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura, to facilitate investigations into the controversial awarding of a PhD degree to former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Nyagura was arrested last week for alleged abuse of office and was released on $200 bail.
The UZ Council met on Monday and resolved to suspend Nyagura, highly-placed sources said yesterday.
“Nyagura has been suspended until his issue is resolved. If anything, he has been violating his bail conditions by interfering with witnesses. It was a unanimous decision by all council members,” a source said.
UZ Council chairperson Buzwani Mothobi refused to comment on the issue, instead referring written questions to the institution’s registrar.
“I am not answering any questions regarding that issue. I would urge you to refer written questions to the university’s registrar,” Mothobi said.
The meeting was controversially postponed last week amid concerns from Thembinkosi Magwaliba, a member of the UZ Council, who argued there were underhand manoeuvres to stop an investigation into Nyagura’s conduct.
Grace was controversially awarded a doctor of philosophy degree in 2014 at a time her husband, former President Robert Mugabe was chancellor of all State universities.
Students demonstrated against the award at the time, but Nyagura’s administration sat on the issue until Mugabe was forced to resign last November following a military intervention that paved the way for new President Emmerson Mnangagwa to sweep into power.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) then began investigations into the awarding of the degree leading to Nyagura’s arrest. Reports also indicated that former sociology department chairperson Claude Mararike was also under investigation for reportedly having played a key role in the saga. Mararike reportedly masqueraded as Grace’s supervisor “during her period of study”.
The investigation was triggered by a petition from senior lecturers at the university who argued that they had not had sight of Grace’s study material or seen her transcripts.
Nyagura was forced to produce a transcript of Grace’s thesis which showed some of the material had been added to the document way after 2014 when she was conferred with the degree. Zacc has declared Grace’s hands were clean, but the opposition MDC party led by former Industry minister Welshman Ncube has urged Mnangagwa to show some “teeth” and arrest the former First Lady who they argued was “accused number one”.