By Helen Kadirire
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice chancellor (VC) Levi Nyagura was yesterday freed on $200 bail following his arrest on Friday night.
He is being charged with criminal abuse of office after he allegedly unprocedurally conferred a doctorate degree to former first lady Grace Mugabe.
On Friday, Nyagura — who will be back in court on March 5, 2018 — was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) over the “dubious” doctorate.
It is alleged that Nyagura conferred the degree to Mugabe without the consent or approval of the university’s council and senate.
As part of his bail conditions, Harare magistrate Florence Mazhambe advised Nyagura to surrender his passport and reside at his given address.
The UZ VC was also warned not to interfere with professors Gaidzanwa and Mugani and doctors Sadomba, Mandozvidza, Ruparaganda and Musevenzi, who are said to be witnesses in the matter.
Represented by advocate Lewis Uriri, Nyagura notified the court of his intention to challenge his placement on remand, arguing that circumstances against him do not disclose an offence.
Furore over Mugabe’s doctorate started after she graduated in 2014, with students last year refusing to sit for their November examinations until the doctorate was revoked.
The controversy over her doctorate has blemished the university’s reputation, amid claims that foreign nationals had begun snubbing the once-respected higher learning institution.
In January, lecturers at UZ’s Sociology Department wrote to Zacc requesting the anti-graft body to investigate circumstances surrounding the awarding of the PhD, before calling for Nyagura’s resignation.
One of the lecturers, Sadomba, claims Nyagura was victimising him as he was one of the lecturers that had approached Zacc.
In a January 11, 2018 letter to Nyagura, the lecturers also alleged victimisation by the VC.
“When you (Nyagura) make your response, please address the whole departmental board as expected and not responding to select individual members. We are concerned that the latter is victimisation of members of the department which action will cause us…against it in ways we will not specify,” the lecturers wrote.
The letter was copied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa — the chancellor of all State universities.
The developments at the UZ come as Nyagura’s tenure was recently extended by two more years.
Born August 26 1946, Nyagura was first appointed VC in January 2003 on a five-year contract. Since 2008, his contract has been extended. He shall serve his new tenure until January 2020. Daily News