Academics at the University of Zimbabwe have petitioned the anti-corruption commission to investigate the “suspicious” way in which former first lady Grace Mugabe was awarded a doctorate four years ago.
The academics from the university’s sociology department say they were “shocked” when Grace Mugabe emerged among the doctoral candidates in 2014.
“This was a shock to many members of the department as most members never (saw) or heard about the proposal, progress reports, thesis examiners and outcome of such a study by the candidate,” reads part of the petition, quoted by the private Zimbabwe Independent.
“The awarding of the degree has therefore not gone through processes that other candidates are subjected to which makes the awarding of the degree very suspicious,” the petition adds.
Grace Mugabe was capped by her husband, then president Robert Mugabe, in August 2014 when he was still chancellor of the university. She appeared in the red academic gown and black cap for the doctorate of philosophy degree beside the then vice president, Joice Mujuru, who also received a doctorate.
Mujuru’s doctoral thesis has subsequently been released into the public domain, but Grace’s thesis has never been made available.
At the time Grace was reported to have enrolled for the doctorate just three months before it was awarded. Prominent graduates of the university, which has a distinguished track record, were outraged. The late Zimbabwean author, Chenjerai Hove at the time wrote to the university’s vice chancellor, Levi Nyagura saying the university’s decision to give a doctorate to Grace had reduced its degrees to “a laughing stock”.