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That PhD, the undoing of Mugabe and Zanu-Pf

27 Oct 2014 at 15:05hrs | Views

It has been called many names from microwave PhD with regards to the speed of its remarkable completion, sexually transmitted due to its being from hubby to Mrs, miracle PhD because its recipient is known for her previous academic failures and many more. One thing for certain is that the first lady's degree was obtained abnormally whichever way anyone looks at it. Needless to say, the whole country was shocked never mind 'the whole world'. While Robert Mugabe has managed to control dissent within his party and the country using all means ranging from the known actions to the unknown he may have gone way too far in awarding his wife what is clearly a fake qualification.  

This crass move is the president's worst move he ever made on the political chess board on which he has been known to be a grandmaster at. He has always been a bold mover. Indeed a man of balls…those of steel! On this occasion he has gone too far, to the point where all the levers he has exploited to stay in power so long are compromised. This article seeks to discuss why he may have just put a nail into his coffin and that of his party.

Within Zanu-PF

Questions have been raised over the qualifications of Mugabe's lieutenants in cabinet during the 34 years of poor governance and recycled dead-wood yes-men. Many have wondered if the many PhD holders are authentic at all. There have always been whispers that the only legitimately qualified cabinet member was the late Dr Edson Zvobgo who has been credited with solely crafting the post-independence national constitution. That is his legacy, reflective of his abilities. What is the legacy of people like Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Dr Simon Muzenda, Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi, Dr Joyce Mujuru and others? In the 1980s Joyce Mujuru's legacy was that of banning Miss Zimbabwe pageant....oops sorry I forgot she did not have a PhD back then but was supplementing for her Junior Certificate at night school, so will let her pass.

How does a properly well-read individual become a career 'yes-man' like Robert Mugabe's cabinet are known to do? Over the years he has surrounded himself with these sorts of people while properly qualified persons like Dr Nkosana Moyo, Dr Simba Makoni and others with educated opinions have been pushed off. How many of his cabinet and party members have been conferred qualifications that they did not actually study for by himself as chancellor of the State Universities in Zimbabwe? Those are questions from people outside his party.

Inside of Zanu-pf there are properly qualified persons. How do they feel about the many fake degree holders? Who is the majority, the fakes or the authentics? There are two known factions within ZANU-PF one led by Mnangagwa, a qualified lawyer closely supported by Prof. Jonathan Moyo. On the other side is Joyce Mujuru who is a holder of questionable qualifications closely backed by Didymus Mutasa whose academic record is obscure for the public? While this simplistic cross-section may not fully represent the nature of the rift in Zanu-pf it illustrates the type of differences that may exist.

The post-Mugabe scenarios make for interesting as well as depressing possibilities. Interesting because of the uncertainty surrounding succession. Depressing because of possibilities of conflict whose signs we are already seeing in people threatening to 'gamatox' each other. In the event that fake qualified people take over then the country is going to sink either by poor performance or simply because they will not command the respect of the public. Who would want to be lectured on economics by President Dr Comrade Amai Grace Mugabe or maybe a Dr Comrade Chinotimba (PhD in Land and Resource Redistribution)? All that before we even talk about the diesel from a rock PhD holders?!

Since 1980 the Zanu-Pf government has used the army muscle to stay in power, from the Zapu days to the MDC and other new parties. Only Zanu-pf derivatives like Edgar Tekere's ZUM, Mavambo-Kusile and Dabengwa's new Zapu got a smoother ride. ZUM was arguably just a farce to make Zimbabwe appear like a multi-party democracy after Zanu-pf neutralised the only potent opponent Nkomo's PF-Zapu. While the majority of officers in the security services are fully trained it has always been fraught with allegations of favouritism along tribe and party lines. Consecutive Chiefs of defence Generals Zvinavashe in 2002 and Chiwenga have come out to declare that they would not accept election outcomes toppling Zanu-pf. This in turn has reduced our national army into a senior party militia in the eyes of those who do not support Zanu-pf.

Just like Grace, a couple of Zanu-pf loyalists from the army were also awarded dubious certificates by their Commander-in-Chief in his capacity as UZ Chancellor. So are juniors in the professional army meant to committedly salute the newly promoted seniors bearing questionable stripes on their shoulders? Does a professional Colonel with an earned PhD salute a dubious General whose promotion came as a result of his miracle PhD? For how long can professional soldiers do that without simmering tensions coming to a head?

If Mugabe can abuse his Chancellorhood of the university what can stop him doing the same with his Commander-in-chief post and award his wife Military stripes? Being a secretary ‘in the president's office' implies that she was in all likelihood a CIO operative. Surely that is more than adequate to qualify her a for a few  badges especially accompanied by some super-hero action story.  Having recently learnt of fake drowning of helicopters credited to Zanu-pf,leaders how many current chefs have been promoted on the basis of fake narratives of battleground exploits?

Nothing saps the commitment of a soldier to his job than having dubious commanders and the president's bold moves places them and the professionals into a state of quandary. Who else has he been parachuting through their ranks?


There is no doubt that Mugabe and ZANU-PF have managed to stay for so long despite astronomical incompetencies hugely because educated people always show little interest in throwing their full weight into political matters. This could be attributed to many factors. Their being employed and thus relatively less aggrieved than most as well as the illusion of security arising from their qualifications which give them higher social and economic mobility is another reason. This mobility has seen the fundis of Zimbabwe being the first ones at the exit doors in times of trouble in the country.

The educated like to ride on the belief that they are civilised. How does a civilised society react to thuggish behaviour as Mugabe likes to resort to? Often times they walk away. This is evidenced by the brain drain that Zimbabwe experienced with the exodus after the 2002 and 2008 elections. They are just not there in the arena for political confrontation. The irony of their absence post-tertiary schooling is rather odd especially knowing how student activism is quite alive in our institutions.

Oh well you intellectuals, Robert Mugabe has gone on to defile your source of pride you fundis. He gave his wife who in all likelihood might not even have 5 O'Levels a PhD! So what are you going to do about it?

He may have unwittingly burnt a tyre to a beehive in desecrating an institution like the UZ .That mask of pride and civility of fundis that he has continuously silently exploit will be coming off now. The status, ego and pride that come in equal measures, with carrying a Zimbabwean qualification in the world is under threat. It will soon be no different to academic fraud capitals like India, Nigeria and China. It is no secret that Zimbabwean education is highly regarded both in Africa and abroad and graduates desirable to employers.

Chii chino shamisa ne Degree reku UZ? Or even broadly chii chino shamisa ne Zimbabwean degree? The president is the chancellor to all universities in Zimbabwe. How many dodgy qualifications has he been granting over the years?

Chenjerai Hove, renowned writer - Coming out his cave, many more coming out?

There is already a tangible atmosphere of awakening of intelligentsia. They are becoming visible by the might of their pens and laptop activism as shown by high quality articles (unlike this one) and commentaries on politics. The level of ire expressed by current articles suggests networks are already forming, with a nothing-to-lose scenario and security due to their qualifications under threat we may soon be seeing the animal in fundis coming out - UZ Demo style!(not). A few years ago Professor Wole Soyinka of Nigeria gave a tongue lashing on President Goodluck Jonathan that we could do with emulating by our own usually terrified Professors.


Women constitute the highest bloke of voters the world over. Any serious political party seeking to win any election knows they need to be enticed. Other than being numerically more than men, they are also the most likely to take their time and do their duty of casting their votes! In placing his wife to head the women's league in his party Mugabe had made a master move. However conferring her with a dodgy qualification can only be described as downright dumb. It has become clear over the last few weeks that giving someone a PhD does not necessarily bring a PhD out of them!

There have already been walk-outs by women at her rallies who feel her speeches do not represent them as the mothers and conscience of the country. Oh you brave women of the motherland….you lead again! While men have been clapping and nodding vigorously to the First Lady one bold woman like Margaret Dongo may have easily have described them as Grace's wives if called upon. Grown men supposedly senior in Zanu-pf are being humiliated at her rallies and responding like naughty school boys reprimanded by their headmistress. And all that coming from a nominee Women's League secretary?

To understand how damaging and out of control Grace Mugabe has become you just need to do a quick comparison of the Mugabe household with our South African neighbour Jacob Zuma. The latter is known to have no less than 6 wives. The chaos they have caused in their country in 20 years pales in comparison to what our colourful PhD holder has done in a few weeks!

Jacob Zuma and some of his wives on his 70th birthday. Indoda ndoda in control of his house.

The fake PhD has taken women's rights decades backward. Zimbabwean women have proved capable and equal to their male counterparts in all spheres of life much against a conservative traditional background. Joyce Mujuru has been by default of being the most senior woman in government and Zanu-pf a symbol and epitome of the advancement of womenfolk. Average literacy and independent thought in our women is high. So what is our new PhD holder Grace tactically hoping to achieve by reserving her worst vernom for this leader of women? Does she think PhD stands for ‘Pull Her Down'? Is that meant to win women voters to her? Methinks not. Today's women want to uplift each other and back their own.

War Veterans

One's war record has been a cornerstone for earning credits and respect in black-ruled Zimbabwe. Being labelled a hero in the country has been narrowed down to that exclusive criteria, sadly. Anyone who has suggested inclusive criteria has been told to go and build their own Heroes Acre. This protocol is more important and prevalent in our war veterans who naturally hold influential positions in government and have strong influence in the army. To that end they have declared in the past that they will never salute a leader who never went to war. So are they going to respect 49 year old wife to their commander-in-chief? Thus far it seems most vocal war vets are voicing exception to the sexually transmitted powers of the first lady.

Jabulani Sibanda, War veterans leader - a small bull making muffled moos at a cow while singing submission to the head bull of the kraal?

She has called meetings to purge their leadership. Are they meant to stay united after her purges? Are they meant to stay together after she has removed their popular leaders? Will they take being ruffled by a rank-less soldier lying down? Or maybe Robert Mugabe is planning to give her some General's badges to counter-measure? Some have speculated that one of his sons may be conferred with Brigadier General's badges in the near-future military pass-outs! All after a miraculous 2 weeks intensive officer training course!

Whichever way one looks at it, the war vets are a vital cog for Mugabe and Zanu-pf and their military protocol dictates that any attack on one is an attack on all. Factional divisions in the party do permeate through the former fighters' structures and Grace's manoeuvres risk splitting this cog. This is one lever of power her husband desperately needs united. They have been his most trusted brigade for decades. However it is hard to see them saluting a fake PhD holder however her husband intends to use her. Even if she cites her experience as a CIO in the president's office that will not cut it as she is too junior and too young.


The majority of exiled Zimbabweans live in western countries or those with leanings against Zanu-pf. The public narrative regarding this PhD has been a mixture of comical, mocking, shocking and shrugging of shoulders indicating an ‘oh well, its Africans isn't it?'. Most diasporans have managed to climb social and economic ladders on the foundations of respected qualifications from Zimbabwean institutions. They have proved themselves against competitors in their adopted countries. Then their former chancellor goes on to pull stunts that compromises their livelihood and credibility? Even those who always defend Zanu-pf and its excesses have been uncharacteristically at a loss of words.

With a crippling liquidity crisis that the normal Zimbabwean is suffering from it is diaspora remunerations that in part have significantly alleviated the economic pressure on the Zanu-pf government. Some diaspora are keen to invest in the country. So how does the jumping onto the political fray of Dr Amai impact on their aspirations? Any investor wants to put their money where they know there is predictability and security. Is she a stabilising and unifying factor?
Dr Amai has been making so many noises that some are speculating on the possibility of civil war. There is so much uncertainty on where the motherland is headed that no one can answer the question of who will be in charge in January with confidence. That is how inspiring it is for a foreign based Zimbabwean to put their money in Zimbabwe.

Future generations

Zanu-PF's legacy as a liberation party is a difficult balance between positives and negatives. On the one hand are things like steering the country from colonisation to independence, strong efforts at empowering indigenous people and others. On the other hand is Gukurahunding of citizens on tribal, race and party lines, astronomical looting of state funds by its leaders, record inflation setters etc. The President's wife's undeserved PhD is one that will comprehensively tip the scales to the unfavourable side. Idi Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko were known dictators who violated all state institutional protocols and personalised state assets but none of them are on record for such a gung-ho ballsy move as to flagrantly doing a dump on an international institutional like the UZ. This is where our 90year old leader has demonstrated that absolute power corrupts absolutely! That is the peak of corruption. This ballsy move unfortunately is a beginning of his and his party's undoing.

Zanu-pf and their leader have benefitted from mastering the art of angering different sections of Zimbabwean society at different times, thus applying the age-old tested divide-and-rule. This is one move that rubs way too many sections the wrong way at the same time. It insults the country's hard working citizens. It demeans their efforts in their day to day trials at survival in harsh environments that they find themselves in (both internal and abroad) largely due to poor policies and corrupt practices. Zimbabwe is no longer number 1 at many things but it still leads literacy levels in Africa. Surely out of that one thing to be proud of the dear leader decides to ruin it?

Grace Mugabe lacks the intellect and class that comes with the title her husband gave her. The quality of her politics is trash shebeen queen kind and she is a state security risk with her incessant attacks on elected office-bearers. She may be the ruler of her home as many women are but there ends the boundaries of her office before she is properly appointed Women's league leader. Did she wake up one August morning and say ‘Daddy, ndodawo PhD chimbo fonerai UZ, here is the phone'? It is clear that she rules her husband who has been dead quiet on her shocking excesses. The country is better off without her inflammatory divisive kind of politics.

Those in ZANU-PF coming out to defend her corner clearly aren't reading the mood well.
The days of counting on the silence of fundis, women, army, war vets and the diaspora are numbered. There is a mood of loss of respect for Robert Mugabe and Zanu-pf that will need miracles or some kind of ISIS type of Gukurahundi to reverse. Credit to Zanu-pf, they have always been ones not to wash their linen in public and thus maintained a mystic about themselves. Then came cyclone Dr Amai, Temba Mliswa, Dr Gamatox…you name them. The mud-slinging is disgraceful even the opposition do not need to campaign anymore. That PhD oh that fake PhD!!!

Source - Shingai Mugochi
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