Zimbabwe President elect Emmerson Mnangagwa smiles in the garden of The State House in Harare on August 3, 2018, at the end of a press conference. Mnangagwa defended the landmark election in which he was declared victorious, despite claims from the opposition of vote-rigging. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
Agence France-Presse

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has suspended the vice chancellor of Zimbabwe’s main university ahead of his trial next month for allegedly improperly awarding Grace Mugabe a PhD four years ago.

Levi Nyagura is facing charges of criminal abuse of office for allegedly breaching the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) rules on awarding doctorates.

In a statement, Mnangagwa, who is UZ chancellor, replaced Nyagura with another academic – Paul Mapfumo – who will be acting vice chancellor until Nyagura’s case is finalised.

The suspension of Nyagura is in line with the University of Zimbabwe Act, said the statement, quoted by the state-run Herald.

Earlier this year academics from the UZ petitioned the anti-corruption commission to investigate Grace Mugabe’s PhD, awarded to her in 2014.

‘Very suspicious’

The academics said Grace Mugabe hadn’t gone through the same processes that other doctoral candidates follow, which made the awarding of the degree “very suspicious”, the Zimbabwe Independent reported.

It is alleged that Nyagura did not consult with members of the sociology department in 2011 when he approved the former first lady’s application to do a PhD. He’s also alleged to have appointed her supervisor without consulting the department’s board.

Nyagura’s trial was supposed to start this week, but defence lawyers weren’t ready and the case was postponed to September 5 according to an earlier report in the Herald.

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