Senior Court Reporter
Former University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura will stand trial on November 24 for alleged criminal abuse of office in which he is said to have illegally awarded former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe a doctorate in 2014.
Nyagura’s trial was supposed to start yesterday but was deferred because prosecutors, Mr Tapiwa Godzi and Michael Chakandida, who are handling the mater, were absent with Mr Godzi on business in Bulawayo and Mr Chakandida attending to family matters.
Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi then set November 24 as the trial date.
Nyagura, who is represented by Mr Tapiwa Museba, returned to court yesterday after unsuccessfully approaching the High Court for a review of Mr Mutevedzi’s decision to dismiss his application to have the charges quashed.
High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta threw out Nyagura’s application for review of the chief magistrates’ decision on September 2 this year for failing to comply with the court rules that govern such applications.
Justice Chatukuta said Nyagura’s founding affidavit filed in the application was defective as it was a mere duplication of his heads of argument.
Seven pages of the 13-page founding affidavit simply quoted sections of five Acts. Nyagura “then proceeded to explain each of the sections and the averments are therefore not concise and simple.
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“They are argumentative and are better placed in heads of argument. In light of the above, I find that there is no proper founding affidavit before the court,” justice Chatukuta in her judgment.
Circumstances leading to the former Vice Chancellor’s arrest are that in 2011, Nyagura single-handedly accepted and approved the application by Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu (Mrs Mugabe maiden name) to work for a doctorate in sociology.
Nyagura allegedly did so without the knowledge and recommendation of the departmental board and faculty of higher degrees committee in violation of UZ quality assurance, guidelines and benchmarking.
The court heard that during the same period, Nyagura covertly appointed Professors Claude Mararike to supervise Mrs Mugabe thesis without the knowledge and approval of the department board of sociology, which was mandated to accept applications and allocate supervisors to students in terms of general academic regulations.
Nyagura led supervisors and examiners to Mrs Mugabe’s Mazowe Estate where the defence oral examinations were purportedly done without the knowledge and approval of the academic committee, the State alleges.
The oral examination was supposed to be done at the UZ campus.
Nyagura allegedly abused his position after showing favour to Mrs Mugabe, who did not meet the minimum requirements to study for the degree.
It is alleged Nyagura’s actions had the effect of discrediting Zimbabwe’s education system, thereby affecting its international ranking and raising doubt about qualifications from Zimbabwe’s institution of higher learning.