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Zimbabwe Court Issues Warrant to Deepen Grace Mugabe PhD Probe

Grace Mugabe.
Grace Mugabe.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reports that a Zimbabwean magistrate has issued a warrant giving the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAC) the green light to carry out detailed investigations on a PhD awarded in controversial circumstances to former First Lady Grace Mugabe by the University of Zimbabwe.

According to the newspaper, the warrant which was issued by magistrate Elisha Singango in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, empowers ZACC “to search and seize all documents relevant to its investigations on whether or not University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura corruptly awarded former First Lady Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe a doctoral degree.”

The warrant compels the university to provide Mrs. Mugabe’s pre-registration form, research proposal to the relevant U.Z department, minutes of the departmental board assigning a supervisor to the former first lady, academic certificates of her supervisor, minutes detailing academic committee meetings on the doctoral degree and U.Z recommendations to the university Council on conferment of the degree to Mrs. Mugabe.

The university is also expected to provide copies of progress reports on the Post Graduate Center focusing on the doctorate and general academic regulations on the conferment of PhDs in the Department of Sociology at the U.Z.

Singango issued a similar warrant early this year which was quashed by the High Court.

VOA Studio 7 was unable to get a comment from ZACC, Nyagura and Mrs. Mugabe. Nyagura, who was arrested over the issue, is currently on bail.

Lawyers of the University of Zimbabwe claim that the search warrant is invalid, arguing that some of the demands are in violation of the higher education institute's ordinances.

Allegations against Professor Nyagura are that he unlawfully recommended the conferment of a Doctor of Philosophy Degree to Mrs. Mugabe without the approval of the University Council and the Senate Committee. The alleged crime is criminal abuse of office.

Ten UZ lecturers from the Sociology Department wrote a letter to protest to ZACC and Professor Nyagura demanding that Mrs. Mugabe’s degree be revoked. But Nyagura, in an interview with the Herald, dismissed the lecturers' claim saying they were “ignorant Messrs and doctors” with no academic capacity to supervise a PhD student.

Higher Education Minister Professor Amon Murwira recently told parliament that Professor Nyagura is still reporting for duty as he has not yet been fired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who appoints university vice chancellors.