Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
NATIONAL University of Science and Technology (NUST) founding Vice Chancellor Professor Phineas Mogorosi Makhurane has been declared a national hero. Prof Makhurane, described by many as “double brain”, died last Saturday at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo after battling diabetes and hypertension for a long time.
He will be buried at his rural home in Gungwe, Gwanda South, tomorrow.
Vice President Cde Kembo Mohadi announced the Zanu-PF Politburo’s unanimous decision to confer national hero status on Prof Makhurane yesterday at the academic’s home in Fourwinds suburb, Bulawayo.
“We had a Politburo meeting in Harare yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss the passing on of our brother Professor Phineas Makhurane.
“We looked at the request that had come from Matabeleland South Province asking us as a party to confer Prof Makhurane with some status. We then deliberated and found that Makhurane deserved to be a national hero and we unanimously agreed as the Politburo, including the President himself, to accord our brother with a national hero status,” said VP Mohadi.
He said the decision to honour Prof Makhurane with a national hero status was in recognition of his contributions to the country’s education sector.
“He was someone who was consistent in the party and never deviated. We were together with Makhurane in Zambia and at one time he was in charge of the international university education fund under which quite a number of liberation movement cadres acquired their higher and tertiary education. We also looked at his contribution at Gwanda State University,” said VP Mohadi.
“After independence, he continued to contribute to the country’s education and we then all agreed that in terms of the upliftment of the nation of Zimbabwe educationally, Cde Makhurane excelled and he had contributed quite a lot to what Zimbabwe is today and therefore that recognition should not go unnoticed.”
Prof Makhurane’s son, Moeketsi expressed gratitude to the Government for conferring national hero status to his father.
“On behalf of the family we appreciate the honour bestowed upon our father by the Government for contributing to the liberation struggle. The family expresses gratitude for the recognition,” he said.
Family spokesperson Mr Joshua Mpofu yesterday evening told mourners that the programme was not yet ready.
He said they were still in the process of liaising with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
Mr Mpofu said the decision to inter the body of Prof Makhurane at his rural home was in line with the academic’s wish.
“We sat down as a family and deliberated on the issue of burial and it was resolved that his (Prof Makhurane) wishes should be honoured hence he will be buried at Gungwe.
“We will, however, notify you about the programme tomorrow (today) as we are still making arrangements with the relevant Government structures,” he said.
Prof Makhurane was born in Gwanda in 1939 and did his primary education in the district before enrolling at Chegato in Mberengwa, Manama in Gwanda, Mnene again in Mberengwa and Fletcher High School in Gweru for his secondary education.
He went to the then University of Rhodesia (now University of Zimbabwe) for his first degree where he majored in Mathematics and Physics and proceeded to the United Kingdom where he attained a master’s and PhD in Physics.
Prof Makhurane later worked as a lecturer at the University of Zambia where he helped many locals and Zambians, including President Mnangagwa, to get scholarships.
He also worked at the University of Botswana where he was Dean of the Faculty of Science until independence when he decided to come back home to work at the University of Zimbabwe where he became the Pro Vice-Chancellor, before moving to NUST as the Vice Chancellor.
Prof Makhurane was tasked by Government to become a technical advisor in higher education and was appointed Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (Zimche) chairperson until his retirement.
He also played a big role in the planning of the establishment of the University of Gwanda. Prof Makhurane was ZAPU’s representative in Sweden during the struggle for independence. He is survived by his wife, four children — three sons and a daughter — and six grandchildren.
Mourners are gathered at Number 2 Marion Road, Fourwinds, Bulawayo.