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Grace Mugabe PhD saga: Nyagura petitions High Court

By Charles Laiton | NewsDay |

Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura has petitioned the High Court seeking an order to nullify the decision of a Harare magistrate who dismissed his application to have the criminal charges levelled against him dropped.

Grace Mugabe and Levi Nyagura
Grace Mugabe and Levi Nyagura

Nyagura is being accused of single-handedly awarding former First Lady Grace Mugabe a doctor of philosophy degree (PHD) in 2014, when he was heading the university.

When his trial started at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts, Nyagura made an application seeking the dismissal of the charges on the basis that they were not in accordance with the law.

He argued that the granting of the PHD was done by the UZ and not himself as a person. However, his application was dismissed.

“…For an office to be abused, it must be capable of doing the acts complained of and that in the course of exercising function in terms of that office, an accused acted improperly.

“Secondly, as these actions pertaining to abuse of ‘an office’, an accused cannot be charged in his personal capacity, but in the capacity that occupies the office,” Nyagura said in his founding affidavit.

“The State has no locus standi to institute the proceedings and the criminal court had no jurisdiction over the matter. The acts complained of remain valid under the maxim omnia praesumuntur rite esse act with the administrative authorities reposed with the powers to supervise decisions under the UZ Act, stating that no criminal complaint arose in the matter.”

Nyagura said there was no personal liability under the UZ Act, Chapter 25:16, as compared to the Companies Act.

“The university and the chancellor are the answerable entities at law to decisions made by the university. The remedy against extant administrative decisions is an administrative as opposed to a criminal one. Allegations are incapable of constituting a criminal offence at law,” he said.

Nyagura, however, said when acting chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi entertained his application, he did not address his mind to the nature of the real application, but dealt with a different application, which he eventually dismissed.

“This is an application to review the decision of the first respondent (Mutevedzi), wherein he dismissed my application for quashing of charges on the basis of disclosing any lawful cause of action.

“I also seek that this honourable court reviews the manner in which the first respondent arrived at such decision, because I am of the firm belief that it was arrived at irregularly,” Nyagura said.

His trial is set for May 16, 2019.