By Mary Taruvinga
SUSPENDED University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor, Levi Nyagura, has challenged his prosecution arguing that the state should instead jail President Emmerson Mnangagwa or his predecessor former President Robert Mugabe.
In his petition to the court, Nyagura argues either Mugabe or Mnangagwa as successive Chancellors of the country’s prime institution of higher learning should be arrested because they are the only ones reposed with power to rescind or confer a degree.
Nyagura is on trial for allegedly abusing his powers as a public officer to grant former First Lady Grace a doctorate degree in 2014. The academic was excepting to the charge he is facing when his trial commenced before Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube, Tuesday.
Through his lawyer, Advocate Sylvester Hashiti, Nyagura argued that the State failed to consider that the PhD in question remains extant and its validity cannot be challenged by a criminal process.
“Section7 of the UZ Act reposes the power to rescind and set aside degrees in the Chancellor,” said Nyagura in his application.
“The current Chancellor Dambudzo Mnangagwa has not revoked this degree. The former Chancellor Robert Mugabe approved and conferred the degree. It remains valid at law and as such the process by which it was conferred remains valid. No criminal sanction can attach. His acts are prima face valid.”
In his application, Nyagura further argued that if the authority reposed with the power to revoke same considers it valid, therefore a court cannot order otherwise in criminal proceedings.
“The Chancellor Emmerson Mnangagwa or Robert Mugabe is (the) answerable person and must instead face the charges.
“If he retains and keeps valid an invalid degree, then he is abusing office and ought to be hauled before these courts. Accused is the wrong person to charge,” said the lawyer.
Nyagura also argued that he does not support the prosecution “and in fact does not complain about the degree.”
He also complained that none of the persons involved in the enrollment, tutelage, supervision, recommendation and conferment of the PhD have been brought to court particularly the former and current vice chancellors or relevant ministers.
“The facts clearly show that accused does not teach, supervise or examine any candidates and is not involved in the recruitment process.
“The State also forgets that the accused’s term of office was renewed by the current Chancellor (Mnangagwa) and minister (Amon Murwira) suggesting that they approve of his conduct.
“They have not brought criminal or disciplinary proceedings against him and there is effectively no complainant in the matter,” Nyagura’s lawyer told the court.
The State is yet to respond to his application.