By Lance Guma
There is a deliberate plot by authorities at the University of Zimbabwe to cover up for the fraudulent manner in which former First Lady Grace Mugabe was award a PhD within a world record three months. This is according to lecturers in the Sociology Department who spoke to Nehanda Radio.
Although doctorates typically require several years of full-time research and writing, Grace was awarded hers by the University of Zimbabwe in 2014 within a space of three months. This week the university buckled under pressure and published online, a copy of the 226-page doctoral thesis by the former First Lady, titled “The Changing Social Structure and Functions of the Family“.
Within hours of it going up online many pointed out that there was no way it met the requirements of originality and should be revoked even on that basis alone. Grace Mugabe’s supervisor was Professor Claude Gumbucha Mararike, a lecturer in rural development, indigenous knowledge and the Sociology of Mass Communication in the Department of Sociology.
With growing calls for the PhD to be revoked, Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura is instead allegedly victimising lecturers in the Sociology Department; “threatening members with instant dismissal, suspension of degree programme and closure of the department,” a lecturer told Nehanda Radio.
“The University administration now wants to silence us on the PhD issue. The Vice Chancellor summoned us as Sociology department on 24 January 2018 following a series of letters from the department outlining our grievances and departments. The meeting had no written agenda.
“Surprising the VC started by chasing a member of the board out of the meeting and three more members of the department momentarily stormed out of the meeting in protest. The members then came back to attend the meeting.
“The VC then declined to listen to the grievances of the board and went on a tirade threatening members with instant dismissal, suspension of degree programme and closure of the department. We take these threats seriously because he boasted that he has done it before, with no consequences.”
“Nyagura said the department has no say in the administration of MPhil and DPhil candidates. This is not true. The policies, procedures and ordinances are clear. On the university institutional repository, Grace PhD is written Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, done in Department of Sociology and supervised by C Mararike, a post retired member of staff of the Department of Sociology.”
“He imposed another acting chairperson for the department stating that there are new regulations which came into effect January 2018 which have not been made available to members of staff. These purported new regulations illegally disqualify current members who are professors and PhD holders to be appointed substantive chairpersons. This is meant to silence the whole department.
“He did not entertain our genuine grievances and demands around departmental governance, policy and procedural irregularities. The VC also shielded Prof Mararike. Mararike is being shielded from any kind of scrutiny (he was imposed as acting chairperson [from May 2015-Dec 2017] despite being post retirement and even though the department has qualified people who can perform all duties required of academics and, running the department like a personal fiefdom such as recruiting his clients, un-procedurally registering and supervising PhDs and to silence members of the department.’
“The problem is that the Sociology Department is now a factory for manufacturing sub-standard qualifications. The people who supervised Grace Mugabe PhD are in the process of producing another bogus degree for the VCs secretary (Who has no BSc or MSc in Sociology and Anthropology) hence she is not qualified to be in the Sociology Department.”
“As we write, there are also PhDs under manufacturing by the same supervisor yet he has no known qualifications in the field in which the students purports to be researching (eg Chinese culture),” the lecturer told Nehanda Radio in a written statement.
Two weeks ago the head of investigations at the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Goodson Nguni, said “We indeed received a report from the sociology department at the university on how Grace Mugabe received her doctorate and that is what we are investigating.”
Don Chigumba, a political analyst based in South Africa, believes universities are autonomous institutions and should be able to deal with issues like this internally without outside interference.
“The duty of nullifying university degrees rests upon the university organs and even God has no power to direct. The university has no right whatsoever to take its students to the police or any investigating agency without taking its own actions basing on constitution of the university.”
“Former President Mugabe had some of his degrees revoked but the matter was never taken to the investigative authorities of Britain. The university is given powers by its constitution to revoke Amai Grace Mugabe’s PhD without going through the Zacc.”
“The UZ is setting a wrong precedent by taking the matter to Zacc and police investigations. The university procedures are clear and our learned professors should avoid becoming political.
“The university professors should agree to revoke and nullify Mugabe’s PhD in their department and take the proposal to the university’s faculty assembly before taking the matter to the senate.” Chigumba argued on Nehanda Radio