By Tendai Rupapa
Suspended University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura will now stand trial on May 16 after his application for exception was yesterday thrown out by a Harare magistrate. Nyagura is accused of illegally awarding former First Lady Grace Mugabe a PhD.
In his application for exception and quashing of indictment, Nyagura — through his lawyer Advocate Sylvester Hashiti — said he was being wrongly charged, adding that a Vice Chancellor was not responsible for the award of degrees.
In his ruling, Acting Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi said Nyagura had a case to answer.
“The State is not alleging that the accused conferred the degree in person to Grace Mugabe,” he said.
“Instead, the allegation is that the accused facilitated the conferment of the degree to Grace Mugabe.
“The allegation that the accused facilitated must, therefore, have been informed by the State’s realisation and acceptance that it is not the Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe who confers degrees on graduands.
“Rather, the conferment of degrees is a process which involves individuals and organs of the university as a collective. The alleged indiscretion by the accused is that along the process he smoothened the road for Grace Mugabe to be conferred with the doctorate degree in one or more illegal ways, in abuse of his power as Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe.
“The court finds that the objection on the basis that the allegations are incapable of commission cannot stand. It is accordingly rejected.”
Mr Mutevedzi said it was wrong for the defence to submit that the State adopted a wrong remedy by resorting to criminal charges.
“The argument presupposes that this case solely involves alleged wrongful administrative action. In the court’s view, it does not, it also involves alleged criminal action,” he said.
“Criminal charges and the potential revocation of the degree are two separate processes. The commencement of those processes is not dependent on the other.
“The accused’s application for exception and to quash the charge is hereby dismissed.”
Representing the State, Messrs Tapiwa Godzi and Michael Chakandida had opposed Nyagura’s application.
They submitted that Nyagura presided over the whole processes that led to the conferment of the degree to the former First Lady. The Herald