Grace PhD: Ministry of higher education rejects involvement in court case

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THE ministry of higher and tertiary education has distanced itself from the controversial awarding of a PhD degree to former First Lady Grace Mugabe by the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice chancellor Levi Nyagura.

Grace was conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in September 2014. The award was allegedly made two months after she enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe. Her thesis was only published this January, four years after she graduated.

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice chancellor, Professor Levi Nyagura, has since been arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and is currently facing abuse of office trial over the saga.

Acting permanent secretary L Mudyiwa has written to the Attorney General (AG) Prince Machaya complaining about ZACC’s decision to cite the higher education ministry as a complainant in the case.

Mudyiwa’s was tendered in court by Prof Nyagura’s lawyers who are arguing that his docket was not properly compiled.

“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 being arraigned before the court for criminal abuse of office,” Mudyiwa wrote.

“The ministry would want to bring it to your attention, as the chief government legal advisor that the ministry is not involved in academic issues. The issue is purely an academic issue which is the domain of the University through the council or senate.

“The ministry only provides administrative oversight to the university.”

Fake scholarship allegations … Former first lady Grace Mugabe

The permanent secretary said his ministry was not qualified to comment, make a determination or give an opinion on whether what was done by Prof Nyagura was a criminal offence or not.

He added that the ministry can only come in after finalisation of the case and not as the complainant but as the administrator on policy issues.

The development comes at a time when the High Court has also nullified a search warrant issued against Nyagura.

When the case continued before a Harare magistrate, Nyagura’s lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri demanded that the investigating officer (IO) comes to testify in court.

Uriri complained said the fact the IO was seeking a search warrant shows that there is no reasonable suspicion that his client committed the offence.

The defence lawyer said this clearly shows that the investigating officer does not have documents required in order to place the accused on remand.

A ruling on the defence complaint will be made on March 15.