THE trial of former University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Levi Nyagura, pictured, who is accused of illegally awarding a doctorate degree to former first lady Grace Mugabe has been pushed to June.
Nyagura is facing allegations of criminal abuse of office and the proceedings have been on a halt following the elevation of presiding chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi to be a judge of the High Court.
The matter was then pushed to June 28 with the consent of his lawyers.
Several witnesses have since testified in the matter, including a former cabinet minister Tichaendepi Robert Masaya, the registrar at the time Surgent Chevo, Watch Rupanganda, who was the chairperson of the sociology department and Wilbert Sadomba who acted as the department’s chair.
Nyagura has distanced himself from the allegations when the trial opened, arguing the conferment of the doctorate was lawful.
He argued that the university has not yet cancelled the degree or withdrawn it, a sign that everything was lawful.
“The accused strongly denies any unlawful act or illicit intent in any of his actions or inactions as regards a doctorate to Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu. In fact the university to date has neither withdrawn, cancelled nor disowned the degree conferred to Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu which is, therefore, proof of the fact that the degree is authentic and deserved,” he argued.
Nyagura said he had no role in how the former first lady ended up at the institution and had not interfered with the department that conferred her a doctorate degree.
“The conferment of a degree to Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu is an act occasioned by the relevant functionaries who acted within the discretion afforded to them. To the accused’s knowledge, the conferment of the qualification was done lawfully and in accordance with the latitudes afforded such functionaries,” his lawyer Tawanda Zhuwarara argued.
“Accused person did not solicit for or occasion the acceptance of Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu’s application for admission for postgraduate studies at the University of Zimbabwe.
“By virtue of the accused’s previous position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, such accused did not participate, influence or interfere in the interaction of Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu and the department of sociology and has no direct information as to how the relationship progressed,” he argued.