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Nyagura leaves office at year end

By Auxilia Katongomara

Suspended University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor, Professor Levi Nyagura, is set to leave the institution at the end of this year and the institution of higher learning has since started hunting for his successor.

University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura
Suspended University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura

Prof Nyagura is embroiled in a legal battle following accusations that he illegally awarded former First Lady Grace Mugabe, a PhD.

In an interview, UZ council chairman Dr Anxious Masuka confirmed that Prof Nyagura was expected to leave the institution at the end of the year when his contract expires.

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“His contract ends 31 December 2019 so we are just doing succession as it takes 10 months to get a VC. That’s a natural process and there is naturally nothing untoward about that,” said Dr Masuka.

According to a vacancy notice, the UZ is looking for a visionary and strategic leader to champion the University’s vision and strategic objectives and the broader context of national development.

The candidate must be a holder of an earned Doctorate Degree from a recognised university and be a full professor; have at least 10 years working experience at senior administrative level in a related higher and tertiary education or research institution among other specifications.

The successful candidate would be offered a five-year performance renewable contract and the application deadline is April 26.

Allegations against Nyagura are that sometime in 2011, he single-handedly accepted and approved Mrs Mugabe’s application to study for a PhD in Sociology without the knowledge of the Department Board and Faculty of Higher Degrees Committee.

The State alleges that Nyagura went on to appoint two professors to supervise Mrs Mugabe’s thesis without the board’s approval.

Nyagura is also accused of usurping the powers of the UZ senate by single-handedly appointing examiners for Mrs Mugabe’s research in violation of the UZ Act and Ordinance 1998/99.

He, however, denies the allegations and has said he is being wrongly charged for illegally awarding the former First Lady a PhD. The professor insists that the latter’s husband, former President Robert Mugabe, who was the varsity’s Chancellor, approved and conferred his wife with the PhD.

Citing Section 8 of the University of Zimbabwe Act, Nyagura, through his lawyer Advocate Sylvester Hashiti, said a vice chancellor was not responsible for the award of degrees.

Adv Hashiti has since given notice to subpoena the former President, his wife Grace and President Mnangagwa so that they give evidence as chief officers.

The defence argued that the PhD was still in existence, adding that the current Chancellor, President Mnangagwa, had the powers to revoke it and pleaded for Nyagura’s acquittal.

“The accused was never the chancellor and has never been one at any given time particularly at the time when the PHD in issue was conferred on Grace Mugabe. The chancellor is the chief officer of the university. The accused was the Vice Chancellor and his powers are set out in terms of Section 8 of the University of Zimbabwe Act and this section provides no powers to confer or award degrees of any sort. In terms of this section, he is an officer of the university and does not act in his personal capacity,” said Nyagura in his application.

“At the relevant period it was Robert Gabriel Mugabe who was the chancellor…Robert Mugabe is the answerable person and must instead face the charges. Accused is the wrong person to charge.

“The charges by the State fail to consider three important facts. Firstly, the PHD in question remains extant. Its validity cannot be put in question by criminal process and lastly the former chancellor Robert Mugabe approved and conferred the degree and transcript.”

He further questioned why none of the other persons involved in the enrolment, tutelage, supervision, recommendation and conferment of the PHD have been brought to court. The Chronicle