President Robert Mugabe on Friday capped 3,274 graduands at the University of Zimbabwe, among them his deputy Joice Mujuru and his wife, Grace. The two women graduated with Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Sociology and Commerce respectively.
Grace Mugabe’s thesis was: “The Changing Social Structure of the Family: The Case of Children’s Homes in Zimbabwe”. No case study was cited in the official graduation program.
Mujuru was conferred a doctorate degree in commerce. Her thesis was titled: “A Strategic Explanatory Entrepreneurship Study of Sustainable Agricultural Business: Case Studies of Mitchel and Mitchel in Mashonaland East and Dotito Irrigation Scheme in Mashonaland Central Province.”
The deputy president, who left Howard Institute in Mashonaland Central before completing her secondary education in 1973 to join the liberation struggle, had to study from home because of her commitments as a cabinet minister, according to her office.
She has a Masters’ Degree in Strategic management.
Speaking with the media after being conferred with her doctorate, Mujuru said she was elated to have reached the pinnacle of her studies.
She said the road to the doctorate had not been easy. She urged Zimbabwean women to enroll in schools and universities across the country to improve themselves and their chances in society.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya, while applauding Mujuru’s desire and hard work leading to the doctorate, questioned Grace Mugabe’s qualification saying not much is known about her previous studies.
“If we look for instance at the history of the First Lady, we understand that she had difficulties completing her first degree at the University of London,” said Ruhanya.
“Some time back we remember stories that were carried by The Standard in which she was getting 13%, 18% struggling to get the first degree.”
“How then she becomes a Doctor, a real doctor, it becomes an issue,” the political analyst said.
“To suggest that she went through the rigor of an academic inquiry to the level of getting that university degree…, questions begin to arise about the credibility of the University of Zimbabwe, but if she indeed managed to get that university degree, we must celebrate that.”
He said Mujuru’s road to improving herself educationally is well documented from the time she came back from the liberation struggle.
“In 1980 Mai Mujuru had very little education, but what we know is that she is a hard worker,” said Ruhanya.
“She worked to get her first degree and everything; so I may not doubt that she has a real degree.”
Activist Blessing Vava also applauds Mujuru’s well documented walk to higher education but also questions Grace Mugabe’s achievement.
He says he views the conferment of the degree on the First Lady as another step towards gaining political office.
“It’s all a strategy and ploy to spruce the image of Grace Mugabe up and also to somehow make her a competent person,” said Vava.
He adds it is ‘quite clear that Grace Mugabe is now a very important player in the succession of Robert Mugabe’and the Zanu PF political matrix’.
Grace Mugabe is expected to take over the leadership of the Zanu PF women’s league from Oppah Muchinguri in December, in a move many say is meant to counterweight Mujuru, who’s said to be angling to take over from Mr. Mugabe, alongside Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who leads another faction in the ruling party.
Both Mnangagwa and Mujuru have previously denied leading factions in the party but unfolding events in the party ahead of a crucial elective congress in December prove otherwise.