BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura has denied single-handedly awarding a Doctor of Philosophy Degree to former First Lady Grace Mugabe, insisting though that the degree was authentic and lawfully awarded.
Nyagura, through his lawyer advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, told chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi yesterday that the fact that the UZ had not revoked the degree meant it was authentic.
“The accused person strongly denies any unlawful act or illicit intent in any of his actions in regards to the awarding of the doctorate degree to Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu,” Zhuwarara submitted.
“In fact, the university has not withdrawn, cancelled nor disowned the degree awarded to Marufu, which is a clear proof that the degree is authentic and deserved.”
Nyagura said the conferment of the doctorate to Marufu was occasioned by many functionaries within the discretion accorded to them.
“To the knowledge of the accused, the conferment of the doctorate was done lawfully in accordance to latitudes afforded to the functionaries,” he said.
Nyagura said it was incorrect that he appointed professor Claude Mararike to supervise Marufu’s thesis.
He also denied appointing Justine Tandire as the research assistant to Marufu and neither did he give direction or command on how the research results and data would be handled.
The former UZ vice-chancellor denied instructing Mararike not to submit written progress reports.
He further denied that he influenced the decision to award the doctorate, saying he even did not know the information regarding to the conferment.
The State, represented by Tapiwa Godzi, had called two witnesses, Mararike and Tandire, to testify and the trial was stopped after they failed to appear in court.
Allegations are that sometime in 2011, Nyagura single-handedly accepted and approved Grace’s application to study for a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Sociology without the knowledge and recommendations of the Departmental Board and Faculty of Higher Degrees Committee in violation of UZ quality assurance guidelines and benchmarks.
It is alleged during the same period, Nyagura covertly appointed Mararike and a Chaneta to supervise Grace’s thesis without the knowledge and approval of the Departmental Board of Sociology.
Nyagura allegedly took supervisors and examiners to Grace’s Mazowe Estates, where the defence oral examination was purportedly done without the knowledge and approval of the academic committee.
Ideally, the oral examination was supposed to be done on campus.
The State said Nyagura allegedly abused his position by showing favour to Grace, who did not meet the minimum requirements to study for the degree.
It is alleged Nyagura’s action had the negative effect of compromising the standards of the country’s education system.
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