State distances ED, Mugabe from involvement in Grace fake degree

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By Mary Taruvinga

PROSECUTORS have defended former President Robert Mugabe and his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa who have been dragged into the fake PhD saga awarded to former First Lady Grace.

University of Zimbabwe Vice chancellor, Levi Nyagura stands accused of favouring Grace with the doctorate but early this week, he turned around saying Mugabe and Mnangagwa should also be arrested over the allegations.

Nyagura argued he had no powers to award Grace with the PhD and that it was conferred by the then Chancellor, Mugabe adding that Mnangagwa did not revoke the degree when he became President, thereby rendering it valid.

But prosecutors have said this was not true.

“The charge is that the person of the vice chancellor, deliberately violated rules, regulations and practices of the university in awarding Grace Marufu a PhD which amounts to criminal abuse of office.

“He falsely and fraudulently recommended the conferment of PhD to Grace Marufu to the council and chancellor.

“He actually signed the degree certificate to endorse his responsibility of being chief academic officer.

“The attempts therefore to implicate the successive chancellors of UZ is not only dishonest but also mischievous,” said prosecutor Tapiwa Godzi of the special anti-corruption unit.

Nyagura, through his lawyer, Advocate Sylvester Hashiti had filed an application declining prosecution.

He excepted to the charges arguing that he never strayed from his line of duty, adding that authorities have not revoked the degree, and as such, it is still valid.

Hashiti on Thursday said, “So if those authorities which say the process is valid, this court has no authority to rule otherwise. The procedure of setting aside a valid administrative process has nothing to do with the court. This court is excused from presiding over such cases by command of law.”

The lawyer said only the High Court has powers to hear this matter.

He also complained that his client was being subjected to selective prosecution.

“The law knows no selective application. It does not apply to selective people but the accused is prejudiced in that he is being prosecuted selectively on behalf of people who should be in the dock, in this case the Chancellor,” said Hashiti.

“He argued that the issue of saying the Chancellor is not involved is the State’s opinion. Their opinion is in fact not law. So, there is nothing really the State has said.

“My learned friends appears as if they are in a fight with the accused.”

Rwodzi said he will abide by the State response before the court.

Acting chief magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi rolled over to April 9 for ruling.