Suspended University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Levi Nyagura, who is accused of corruptly awarding a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) to former first lady Grace Mugabe, has lost his bid to approach the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) directly to challenge his prosecution by a Special Anti-Corruption Unit set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Con-Court yesterday upheld a decision by Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube barring Nyagura to approach the highest court in the land. In the application, Nyagura had cited Ncube, Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi, and the Unit’s prosecutors Tapiwa Fresh Godzi and Michael Chakandida, as respondents.
“There is discordance between what happened and the relief sought. The relief sought is based on the allegation that there was refusal by the court a quo to refer the constitutional questions to the court. There was no refusal. There was a determination of the constitutional questions on merits.
“The decision terminated the controversy between the parties on the question whether the authority to prosecute was lawfully given to the third and fourth respondents (Godzi and Chakandida), by giving victory to the prosecutor-general.
“The applicant was bound by the decision of the court a quo and had to stand trial,” the court said. Chief Justice Luke Malaba in a judgment agreed to by other Con-Court judges Tendai Uchena and Vernanda Makoni, said Nyagura invoked a wrong remedy in a bid to redress the magistrate’s ruling.
The judges said if Nyagura felt the ruling was wrong, he should have filed an appeal to redress the decision. “A wrong judicial decision does not, however, give rise to a ground for an alleged violation of the right to equal protection of the law.
“No law provides protection to a litigant against the possibility of a judicial officer making a wrong decision. In the result, it is ordered as follows: the application be and is hereby dismissed with no order as to costs,” the court said.
Nyagura argued in his court papers that according to Section 260 (1) of the Constitution, a public prosecutor is intended to be independent, impartial and not subject to the direction or control of anyone. He said people who assist the prosecutor-general have to be employed by a board of the National Prosecuting Authority.
“They (the unit) have been placed under the president, their salaries are paid by the president, and they are bound by the Official Secrecy Act.
“They have both investigative and prosecuting rights. They serve at the pleasure of the president who can remove them from office at any time,” he argued. Allegations against Nyagura are that sometime in 2011 he single-handedly accepted and approved Mugabe’s application to study for a PhD in Sociology without the knowledge of the department Board and Faculty of Higher Degrees Committee.
The court heard Nyagura then appointed two professors to supervise Mugabe’s thesis without the board’s approval. Nyagura is further accused of usurping the powers of the UZ senate by single-handedly appointing examiners for Mugabe’s research in violation of the UZ Act chapter 25:16 and Ordinance 1998/99.
Sometime in 2014, Nyagura allegedly led supervisors and examiners to Mugabe’s Mazowe Estate where the defence oral examination was purportedly done without knowledge and approval of the academic committee.
According to State papers the oral examination is supposed to be done at UZ premises.