‘Nyagura was never suspended’

By Blessings Mashaya

Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira says University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice chancellor Levi Nyagura was never suspended, declaring that only President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the power to suspend a vice chancellor.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira

He said he is yet to receive communication from Mnangagwa as the chancellor of all State universities, suspending Nyagura.

This was after Senator Siphiwe Ncube had inquired why Nyagura was still reporting for duty despite being sent on paid leave pending the outcome of his court case.

“Senator, you are reading from the newspapers, which is okay.

“With all due respect, I would say a correct position that we know is that the chancellor, who is the president, who is the appointing authority of a vice chancellor; I am not even the appointing authority myself.

“What we know is that I have never seen a letter on my desk which says the chancellor has suspended a vice chancellor,” said Murwira.

The UZ Council took the decision to send Nyagura on paid leave recently.

Nyagura is being accused of illegally facilitating the issuance of a PhD to former first lady Grace Mugabe when her husband was still in office.

Students demonstrated against the award at the time but Nyagura’s administration sat on the issue until Mugabe was forced to resign last November following a military intervention that paved the way for Mnangagwa to sweep into power.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) then began investigations into the awarding of the degree, leading to Nyagura’s arrest.

The investigation was triggered by a petition from senior lecturers at the university who argued that they had not had sight of Grace’s study material or seen her transcripts.

Nyagura was forced to produce a transcript of Grace’s thesis which showed some of the material had been added to the document way after 2014 when she was conferred with the degree.

Nyagura was suspended late last month following his arrest on criminal abuse of office charges.

However, Nyagura is still reporting for duty.

This emerged this week in an official communication from Thembinkosi Magwaliba, on behalf of other UZ Council members, to the council chairperson Buzawani Mothobi in which the seasoned lawyer highlighted the recommendations made by the council to the effect that Nyagura was to be replaced by pro-vice chancellor Pedzisai Mashiri in the interim pending the outcome of the investigations.

“I have learnt over the past week that … Nyagura has been attending to his normal duties. He has not been issued with a letter placing him on indefinite leave as resolved by Council.

“Consequently, the situation at the university has been highly tense and does not conduce for the discharge of the normal functions of the university by all concerned.

“This is because some of the subordinates to … Nyagura are witnesses in the on-going criminal case and have to report to him as part of the normal business duties at the university,” Magwaliba said in a letter dated March 6, 2018.

Magwaliba stressed that Nyagura had been placed on leave to ensure the smooth flow of his court case.

“Further, council resolved that it could not institute its own investigations into the circumstances surrounding the grant of a doctorate to …Grace … since that could have appeared to be an interference with the current ongoing court processes involving … Nyagura.

“Accordingly, at the conclusion of court processes which are presently pending in which … Nyagura is an accused person, council would take a position as to whether to institutes its own inquiry,” he said. Daily News