Tarisai Machakaire 14 March 2018
HARARE – The State’s case against University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice
Chancellor Levi Nyagura, accused of corruptly irregularly awarding a PhD
degree to wife of ousted president Robert Mugabe, is crumbling.
This comes after the Higher Education ministry – cited as the complainant
in the matter – said it never lodged a query against Grace Mugabe.
According to State papers, the permanent secretary in the Higher Education
ministry, one L Mudyiwa, allegedly lodged a complaint against Nyagura, but
the office denies, making such a report in a letter addressed to
Attorney-General Prince Machaya.
“The ministry would like to register its complaint against (the) 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 UZ vice chancellor as the
accused,” the letter read in part.
“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
“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.”
According to the letter, that decision ought to be made by the University
Council and Senate as supreme organs on academic issues.
“The ministry would like you as our lawyer to set the record straight
since this is an issue which is already before the court. The court papers
are defective in as
far as they cite the wrong person as representing the complainant. The
ministry never complained and does not intend to complain,” reads the
letter.As such, Nyagura claims that there was no reasonable suspicion
warranting his arrest.
He is also demanding that investigating officer Richard Machinya be
brought to court to explain why he has been placed on remand yet there is
no evidence linking him to the offence.
Machinya is frantically trying to acquire a warrant of search and seizure
to look for documents that form the basis of the allegations pressed
This follows the High Court’s reversal of Harare magistrate Elisha
Singano’s ruling, empowering Zacc to search and seize from the UZ all
documents relating to the probe.
This was after the learning institution had filed an urgent High Court
application, challenging Singano’s ruling on the basis that it was
High Court judge Lavender Makoni ruled the warrant that had been issued
Nyagura is being charged with criminal abuse of office and has challenged
his prosecution on the basis that the State does not have evidence to form
reasonable suspicion against him as required by law.
His lawyer, Lewis Uriri, has argued that there is no complainant in the
matter considering that the ministry of Higher Education – cited as
complainant in the State papers has denied any association with the case.
But prosecutor Michael Reza said they were pursuing prosecution
Yesterday, the State said it was pressing for prosecution of Nyagura even
if the complainant has turned hostile.
“What is required of the State is to place before the court sufficient
evidence showing that the accused person may have done what is alleged to
have done. Counsel ought to be disabused from this notion as it not a
requirement at this stage,” Reza responded.
“The presumption of section 174(2) is that; if the prosecutor proves that
a public officer did anything to the favour of any person in breach of his
or her duty as a public officer it will be presumed, unless the contrary
is proved, that he or she did it for the purpose of showing favour to the
“It is not in dispute that the accused person was the vice chancellor of
the UZ, a State institution. He is therefore a public official and
consequently covered by the provisions of section 174.”
In the High Court case challenging the search and seizure warrant, the UZ
had cited Zacc, Machinya and Singano as respondents.
Singano had directed the UZ Registrar Noah Ariel Mutongoreni or any other
senior official at the institution to provide a set of relevant documents,
records and articles to Zacc for a probe on the allegations that Grace had
been corruptly awarded a doctorate degree by the institution.
Some of the documents that the court required to be made available include
pre-registration application form, Grace’s research proposal submitted to
the Department of Sociology, minutes of the departmental board assigning a
supervisor to Grace, academic certificates of her supervisor, minutes
showing that the doctorate degree passed through the Academic Committee,
and minutes of the UZ Senate recommending to the University Council the
conferment of the doctorate on Grace.
According to the directive, Zacc was also supposed to be furnished with
the UZ Faculty Ordinance number 44, UZ quality assurance guidelines and
benchmarks for management and supervision of higher degrees by research,
General Academic Regulations for Post-Graduate Degrees of the University
of Zimbabwe 1998/99 Volume 11, as well as copies of the transcript,
notification and Doctor of Philosophy Degree awarded to Grace.
Singano’s ruling prompted UZ to approach the High Court, arguing the
warrant violated the institution’s rights and was illegal.