UZ in another academic award scandal

UZ graceTHE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has been plunged into yet another storm as academic, Charity Manyeruke, widely believed to be aligned to ruling party Zanu PF, has been controversially promoted to Professor of Political Science.

Academics and students have expressed grave doubts over Manyeruke’s publications record and whether it qualifies her to be accorded professorship, amid reports that the Academic Promotions Committee had turned down her application but Vice Chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura went ahead and unilaterally conferred Manyeruke the honour.

This fresh controversy comes hot on the heels of the university’s scandalous conferment of a doctorate of philosophy degree to First Lady Grace Mugabe who is said to have completed the higher degree in a record three months.

Grace’s degree award drew the ire of the academic fraternity and general citizenry, as there was no proof she had gone through the necessary academic rigor to earn a doctorate, amid suspicion she was awarded the degree because of her standing in society. Despite repeated calls the UZ has failed to produce details of when the First Lady was admitted for studies or a record of her thesis.

Manyeruke’s promotion to professorship is viewed as a continuation of the “Zanufication” of the institution of higher learning as those with links to the party are allegedly given preferential treatment ahead of deserving candidates.

The university’s website on Wednesday had still not updated Manyeruke’s professorship title on her academic profile, which still showed her highest academic achievement to be a doctorate in philosophy.

A professor at the university who spoke anonymously told the Zimbabwe Independent for one to be awarded professorship they should meet a specific quota of academic publications in reputable academic journals. A candidate is recommended by the faculty with evidence of publications, or one simply writes to the vice-chancellor with the evidence.

According to the academic, there are two types of professorships, the first being associate professorship requiring one to have published at least 21 articles. Full professorship requires a minimum of 45 reputable publications.

If need be the publications should go through a panel of international reviewers and the final determination is made at the UZ’s Academic Promotions Committee.

According to sources at the UZ, Manyeruke’s professorship was met with heated debate within the Academic Promotions Committee that usually consists of 15 members comprising the pro vice-chancellor and deans of different departments.

“Some of the members were totally against it saying that according her professorship was going to destroy the university’s reputation as was the case with the Grace Mugabe’s doctorate. The committee discussed this issue last year around October, and out of the 21 articles expected Manyeruke actually had 22, but these were reduced to only seven because most of the articles did not qualify. They were more like newspaper articles that you reporters write.

“The articles should be refereed journals that people read, and books should be traceable. But people were shocked that she (Manyeruke) was now professor and it appears maybe she was promoted through the chairman’s discretion concept, which is not proper,” said the source. “Her professorship title is just neo-patrimonialism,”

Another UZ source said suspicions were high that Manyeruke has close links to the military, whose members have of late been suspiciously attaining degrees at the university.

She is also suspected to be linked to the First Family and doing several academic works for it. In addition, Manyeruke is a regular “analyst” on state media news bulletins were she gives views sympathetic to the ruling party and the state.