SENIOR administrators at the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) exploited a weak admissions system to help unqualified law students cheat their way into the private institution of higher learning exposing the university to massive corruption.
The university was, in 2016, granted authority to enrol law students after the Council for Legal Education found that the institution’s law school met the required standards.
The admissions scandal at ZEGU was revealed in a High Court judgment delivered last week dismissing an urgent chamber application by an unqualified student Victor Madzivanyika.
He had approached the higher court challenging the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa-run university’s revocation of his admission.
Madzivanyika along with Cleopatra Gumbo and Norman Mashayamombe, all mature entry law students, had their letters revoked because they did not meet the required standards.
Their unauthorised admission was only discovered when they started attending lectures. The standard procedure for mature entry is that applicants are required to write and pass a test set by the university’s Faculty of Law.
In this case, it was argued that Madzivanyika’s offer letter was irregular for want of compliance with the mandatory procedure.
In his judgment last week, Justice Happias Zhou dismissed Madzivanyika’s application to vindicate his offer.
“The balance of convenience does not favour the granting of the relief sought.
“Allowing a student who did not follow the laid down procedures in gaining entry into the university to continue attending lectures will undermine the integrity of the education system. It also dents the reputation of the university,” he said.
Justice Zhou said the integrity of the qualification and education system which entitles one to practice law must be jealously guarded, just like the integrity of the country’s system of education in general.
The judge, however, criticised ZEGU’s admissions system which he said was open to abuse by staff members.
“The first aspect is the very existence of loopholes in the admission system, which can be manipulated in the manner revealed by the two cases.
“The second aspect is the number of admitted students who do not have a Grade B or better in English Language at Ordinary Level,” said Justice Zhou.
According to the produced copy of the regulations, this showed the mandatory requirement for ordinary and special entry students.
Only mature entry students seem to be exempted from this requirement. Justice Zhou noted that out of the 50 applicants who were accepted, 16 of them had a Grade C in Ordinary Level English Language.
He said this would be wrong if such a huge number, representing 32 percent, would be mature entry students. The regulations state that not more than five applicants may be admitted through the mature entry procedure in any intake.
“The last observation pertains to the requirements for admission through the mature entry,” said Justice Zhou.
“No basic or minimum qualification is required. Suitable or relevant post-school experience is not defined anywhere in the regulations, which exposes the system to abuse as appears to have been the situation in this case.”
Madzivanyika applied for admission to the LLB degree programme through ZEGU’s mature entry system. He was given an offer letter in March this year, which detailed the fees required and gave the account details.
He was also advised by telephone that a place had been reserved for him in the LLB programme. He then paid fees. However, on April 13, 2022, he received an email letter revoking his admission to the programme.
He sued the university. In opposing Madzivanyika’s application, ZEGU argued that he was irregularly given the offer letter for the place and his authorised admission was only discovered when he started attending lectures.
It was also ZEGU’s argument that Madzivanyika was probably corruptly given the offer letter through the involvement of some staff members. Further, the university argued that Madzivanyika’s application was never received and considered by the Faculty of Law in accordance with the laid down procedure.