Zimbabwe students view PhD for president's wife as an 'insult'

Grace Mugabe's PhD, awarded just months after she enrolled for the course, has incited protest among Zimbabwean students who view it as a 'sham'. (Aaron Ufumeli)

Grace Mugabe's PhD, awarded just months after she enrolled for the course, has incited protest among Zimbabwean students who view it as a 'sham'. (Aaron Ufumeli)

The Zimbabwe students union, on Friday, demanded the resignation of authorities at the country’s top university after it awarded a “miraculous” doctorate to President Robert Mugabe’s wife.

The PhD was granted to Grace Mugabe, a 49-year-old former typist in the president’s office, two weeks ago - just months after she enrolled for the course.

Mugabe’s wife - who was capped by her husband, President Robert Mugabe along with other graduates - was awarded the degree soon after she was endorsed to lead the ruling party, ZANU-PF’s women’s wing.

The surprise endorsement worsened tensions in a party ridden with factionalism over Mugabe’s succession.

The awarding of the degree is seen as a corrupt means of buttressing her credentials as she seeks political office - and possibly the presidency when Mugabe dies.

“Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura and all who took part in this scam should resign for their pro-active or non-reactive roles in engineering the fake doctorate,” Gilbert Mutubuki, president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said in a statement.

ZINASU said the degree awarded to Grace was “a serious insult to the students, the intelligentsia, doctors, professors and lecturers associated with the University of Zimbabwe.”

Despite the criticism, state-owned companies have splashed newspaper advertisements congratulating the First Lady, with one company saying “her achievement shall always serve as an inspiration to all Zimbabweans as the country moves towards attaining universal education.”

Mutubuki said: “Any recipient of such a sham miraculous doctorate should feel ashamed unless their sense of humanity and guilty conscience is no more.”

The University of Zimbabwe has not commented on the matter but has promised to issue a statement. –AFP

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