The Special Corruption Court has dedicated a full week to prosecute University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura who is being accused of fraudulently awarding former first lady Grace Mugabe a PhD.
Nyagura is being charged with criminal abuse of office and his trial will run from August 22 to 28, according to the State.
The Higher Education ministry which is cited as the complainant in a case has distanced itself from the case saying they do not meddle in academic issues.
This has been detailed in a letter that forms part of Nyagura’s court records.
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,” read the letter.
“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 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.”
On such basis, Nyagura claims that there was no reasonable suspicion warranting his arrest.
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 to 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 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.