Grace was recently conferred with Doctor of Philosophy degree, after reportedly carrying out research on orphanages, by her husband, President Robert Mugabe, who is the chancellor of all state universities.
She graduated amid reports that she only registered for her studies—expected to take at least three years—this year. Her conferment has kicked up a wave of protests from students, academics and ordinary people.
“That Mugabe decided to give his wife a doctorate is not only disgraceful but illegal. I am urging the UZ alumni (former students) to approach the Constitutional Court to challenge this brazen disregard for the law in awarding this undeserving woman the degree,” said Biti.
He said he was willing to be part of the group that would make the constitutional application against the UZ, adding that Grace’s degree award violated Section 56 of the constitution that guarantees equality and non-discrimination of citizens.
He alleged that Grace had been awarded the doctoral degree without studying for it and thus had been given unfair advantage over bona fide students.
“Mugabe as the husband and chancellor is an accomplice in this breach of the constitution. I belong to the class of former UZ students who sweated and toiled to obtain our degrees. We feel very violated, short-changed and downgraded.
“There is an element of cheating in this and cheating is also criminal, it’s fraudulent. The greatest sin in academic pursuits is to cheat and that is why those who are caught plagiarising receive the harshest punishment,” said Biti.
Sources at the UZ Sociology department told The Zimbabwean that Grace’s doctoral study records were being kept under tight wraps. “We have no idea where her doctoral thesis is being kept. Even departmental administration personnel don’t have the records. It’s all hush hush,” said a source.
Grace graduated alongside Mugabe’s deputy in party and government, Joice Mujuru, whose thesis has already been posted online while that of the First Lady has not.
“Granted, it can take some time before dissertations are filed in the main library, but the question remains where Grace’s is as almost all the people who should be in the know are saying that they were not even aware that she was carrying out higher degree research,” he added.
He said key administrative staff were also not aware of her registration details and did not know if her thesis proposal had been considered and approved by the higher degrees research committee.
The records could possibly have been removed from the Faculty of Social Sciences under which the Sociology department falls and transferred to Vice Chancellor’s office, he added.
Another source said they suspected that Claude Mararike, a sociology professor in the same department, had handled Grace’s doctoral research.
Mararike had not responded to questions sent to him via email by the time of going to print.
Watch Rupanga, the UZ Sociology department chair, did not respond to emailed questions either, while the university Vice Chancellor, Levi Nyagura, has been remained tight lipped. Critics have challenged him to explain how she obtained the degree.Post published in: News