Liberation war fighters are piling pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to arrest former first lady Grace Mugabe over her attainment of a doctorate degree under controversial circumstances but analysts have cautioned that any punitive action against the first family might backfire for Zanu-PF at the polls.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva) said failure to arrest Grace, alleged to have been corruptly awarded the PhD by officials at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) would make a mockery of Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption crusade.
“The president has made a clarion call to permanently destroy the vice of corruption, leaving no sacred cows. This means the conduct of all those who hold office, impacting on other people’s lives, should be open to rigorous public scrutiny and they must be held accountable without fear or favour,” Znlwva said in the statement.
“It is mind-boggling that an institution, (such) as the University of Zimbabwe, mandated to nurture and educate our young members of society is led by people who protect and cover-up corruption and abuse of office. Why should corruption at UZ be considered a sacred cow?”
Grace was awarded the PhD in 2014 after about three months of study.
Doctorates typically require several years of full-time research and writing.
Levi Nyagura, the vice chancellor of the UZ was arrested last month after the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission initiated investigations into the matter.
He is currently out on bail.
Znlwva yesterday said it believed that the saga provides a litmus test for Mnangagwa’s government, which has pitched the fight against corruption on top of its agenda.
The association said unfettered investigations should commence forthwith into the conduct of the country’s oldest university to rid the institution of any practices that taint the current dispensation as this potentially poisons learners.
The war veterans said if the government fails to handle the case properly, it will tarnish the integrity of Zimbabwe’s education system.
“We, veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and the vanguard and custodians of the revolution and architects of this new dispensation demand explanation from all involved institutions and organs of the State mandated to uphold our educational system. These organs must perform the honourable task of explaining to the Zimbabwean public the exact circumstances, the procedures and all the processes followed in awarding Grace … a doctoral degree by the UZ.
“We cannot afford to have our education system marred by individuals who use their positions of office to circumvent rules, customs and practices that all others are subjected to. We shall leave no stone unturned in our demands,” said Znlwva.