by Costa Nkomo
THE framing Grace Mugabe as a powerful politician by the state media after assuming the position of Zanu PF Women’s League Secretary in 2014 was not sufficient to win the assent of the Zimbabweans. Instead, it resulted in backlash.
From a typist in the office of the president, to a lavish personality reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, spouse to the French king, Louis XVI of the 1770’s; various interpretations have been made of Mrs Mugabe’s character before and after her controversial marriage to Robert Mugabe in 1996.
Some have called her a woman of lose morals. Others, varsity students included, have made a parody of Grace’s rags-to-riches persona, which seems to have struck a hornet’s nest across the country.
In a bid to side-track this given background, Grace Mugabe was accorded a PhD at the University of Zimbabwe in 2014 and soon became known as ‘Doctor Amai,’ a narrative the state media believed to be more appealing to the masses This was a clear imposition of a character that never was.
Later that year, in the so-called ‘Meet the People Tour’ rallies in which Mrs Mugabe single handed purged the then Vice President, Joice Mujuru from Zanu PF, she failed to acquire and exhibit the voice and behaviour of a PhD holder.
‘…Mrs Mugabe’s thesis is alleged to be non-existent…’
Mrs Mugabe’s thesis, entitled: ‘The changing social structure, the functions of the family: The case of children’s homes in Zimbabwe’ is however, alleged to be non-existent. Students have called for it to be availed to them for the past three years, to no avail.
The conferment of PhDs to academics takes a long and strenuous route in which writing the final thesis requires a minimum of three years. For one to pass, they should have made a significant input to the intellectual fountain.
But, for Mrs Mugabe, it took her only three months. Her husband, then Chancellor of all universities, accorded her a doctorate, a development that struck the raw nerve of student activists across the country and took the media by storm in its various formats. On social media, students and other concerned academics blatantly called it “fake degree”.
“By dubiously getting a PhD from the UZ to boost her political and presidential ambitions, Grace Mugabe compromised UZ” said Director of Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya, quoting Opa Muchinguri’s words.
Students and academics are lobbying the University of Zimbabwe to revoke Grace Mugabe’s PhD degree as soon as possible.
‘…Professor Levi Nyagura, UZ Vice Chancellor, must apologise and resign…’
The groups are also demanding an explanation from Professor Levi Nyagura, UZ Vice Chancellor, to ‘clear the air’ on how Mrs Mugabe was accorded the PhD.
Zimbabwe Congress of Student Union (Zicosu) led by President Takudzwa Gambiza demanded for the immediate revocation of Mrs Mugabe’s PhD which they perceive as a threat to Zimbabwe’s cherished education system.
“It’s of paramount importance that the fake PhD should be revoked, and a public apology issued by those who committed that heinous academic fraud”, Gambiza said.
Zicosu treasurer general, Godknows Mudhari also said academic achievements accrue as a result of hard work only.
“It is uttermost disrespect when fellow students are awarded such degrees on a silver platter,” said Mudhari. If this thesis is not authenticated then the degree should be revoked or UZ should award all of us the same degree for free.”
Fast forward to November 2017, having proved to the nation and the rest of the globe, that she was not nearer to being a PhD holder, Mrs Mugabe committed political suicide by unleashing venom on the person of the then Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a move that catalysed the liberation of Zimbabweans from an impending Mugabe dynasty.