Zimbabwe arrest over Grace Mugabe's 'fake' PhD

Former first lady Grace Mugabe can be seen in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 16 February 2018
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Zimbabwe arrest over Grace Mugabe's 'fake' PhD

HARARE: Zimbabwean anti-corruption investigators said Friday they had arrested a university professor over the suspected fraudulent awarding of a doctorate to former first lady Grace Mugabe.
Levi Nyagura, the vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission following an investigation into the PhD.
It emerged that Grace was awarded the degree by the university in 2014 after just months of study.
Doctorates typically require several years of full-time research and writing.
"Nyagura has been arrested. We cannot have people who award fake degrees," Goodson Nguni, a ZACC commissioner told AFP over the telephone.
The professor will be charged with abuse of office, he said, refusing to say whether Grace also faces arrest.
Grace Mugabe's apparent desire to succeed her 93-year-old husband prompted the army takeover that saw Robert Mugabe ousted from power in November last year.
A copy of the 226-page doctoral thesis, titled "The Changing Social Structure and Functions of the Family" was only published last month following public calls for Grace to be stripped of her PhD.
Critics had argued that Grace, 52, had not actually studied or undertaken research to earn the doctorate.
She was personally capped by then-president Mugabe, who was also the chancellor of the university.


UN report of Assad’s crimes against humanity in Ghouta watered down: the NYT reveals

Updated 1 min 39 sec ago
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UN report of Assad’s crimes against humanity in Ghouta watered down: the NYT reveals

LONDON: The New York times has revealed that the UN commission investigating and documenting possible war crimes in the Syrian conflict omitted 7 pages of damning evidence. The New York Times Said that the seven pages were summarised in 2 paragraphs in the UN final documents published Wednesday.
The newspaper said that “the materials in the leaked draft paint a far more frightening picture of chemical weapons use in Eastern Ghouta than had been previously reported. The omitted draft pages “assert without qualification that Syrian forces and their allies were responsible” despite rebuttals and denials by Mr.Assad’s government and his backers Iran and Russia.

The American newspaper said that a member of the commission explained by saying that many of the details in early draft were removed as they needed additional corroboration or clarification.
The paper quoted Hanny Megally an Egyptian human rights lawyer as saying:
“We thought we need to do some more work on this it’s as ongoing investingtion so we thought, let’s keep it short.”

But the NYT added that the omitted information seemed unambiguous.

“In one of the most grim patterns of attack documented during the period under review, Government forces and/or affiliated militias continued to use chemical weapons in densely populared civilian areas throughout eastern Ghouta.”

In meticulous detail, the draft enumerated six chemical weapons assaults on civilians from January through April 7, the date of the deadliest assault. In what appeared to be a first, it implicated Iranian-supplied weaponry, the newspaper reported.

“In relation to the munitions used on 22 January and 1 February, the Commission obtained and assessed material evidence including metadata analysis, and identified a surface-to-surface craft-produced rocket (IRAM). While IRAMs have been employed by a range of actors across Syria, the particular design of those observed during these two attacks is only known to have been used by Government forces and rarely, affiliated militias. Specifically, IRAMs documented were built around industrially-produced Iranian artillery rockets known to have been supplied to Syrian Government forces.”

Thirty-one people, including 11 children, were sickened in the first three attacks, but none died. Two other episodes of possible chlorine use, on Feb. 25 and March 7, caused more extensive casualties, killing two children, including an infant, and injuring 18 civilians.

For The New York Times, the draft revealed more damning evidence to the regime and its allies as it analyzed what happened on the April 7 attacks on eastern Ghouta when an improvised explosive delivered from the air hit a multi story residential building close to ‘Rif Damascus Hospital’,
the draft described the explosion as a ‘single industrial gas cylinder’with fins.

Based on witness statements and “material evidence received and analyzed by the Commission,” the draft stated, the dead showed “an array of symptoms consistent with exposure to a choking agent, including signs of foaming at the mouth and nose, blue skin indicating impaired blood circulation, meiosis (constriction of the pupils), as well as some cases of dilated (wide open) pupils.”

Mr Megally declined to go into detail over why such information was withheld from the final report published on Wednesday. But he said that with the April 7 attack in particular, more information was needed, including precisely what killed the 49 people.

“If we’re not sure what the cause of death was, we may be looking in the wrong place,” he said. “It’s better we finish the investigation, rather than release it in dribs and drabs.”