Sallomy Matare Herald Reporter
The former President Cde Robert Mugabe leaves a challenge for future leaders to prioritise education through his Presidential Scholarship scheme, an initiative which will be an everlasting legacy.
This was said by Dr Christopher Mushohwe, who was Minister of State for Scholarships during former President’s tenure.
He also spoke so fondly of the history of the Presidential Scholarship scheme.
“In 1995, the scholarship sponsored 15 students, all stationed at the University Of Fort Hare where former President Mugabe graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and English in 1951.
But later, said Dr Mushohwe, the scholarships scheme had to send 100 more students to other institutions around South Africa to take up some courses which were not offered at Fort Hare.
To date, the Presidential Scholarship scheme has seen thousands of disadvantaged children from across the country studying for various programmes at various universities in South Africa.
The former minister said he learnt a lot during the time he was working with Dr Mugabe.
“I worked with him for 56 years. I learnt a lot from him, we must celebrate his life and thank God for the years that we have been with him,” said former minister.
Fort Hare University, which received the largest portion of students under the scholarship, spoke highly of the late icon’s vision to promote education for everyone.
“On behalf of the students under the presidential scholarship, we convey with a heavy heart, our deepest condolences to the Mugabe family and the entire Zimbabwe at this difficult time. We mourn with you and celebrate the remarkable life of President Mugabe, who made efforts in promoting development in our country.
“President Mugabe was an insightful and visionary leader.
“His service to our community as the patron of the Presidential Scholarship will be enshrined in the archives of his admirable legacy.”
The institution said the great leader will be remembered as one of the leaders who was in pursuit of unity and community development.
Meanwhile, the Scholarship Committee at the University of Johannesburg have expressed their heartfelt condolences to the Mugabe family and the nation.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing on of the former President and patron of the Zimbabwe Presidential scholarship scheme.
“On behalf of the students under the Presidential Scholarship, we convey with a heavy heart, our deepest condolences to the Mugabe family and the entire Zimbabwe at this difficult time.
“We mourn with you and celebrate the remarkable life of President Mugabe, who made efforts in promoting development in our country.”
Lovemore Madhuku, who happens to be one of the beneficiaries tells his story about how the scholarship helped him.
He wrote on his Twitter handle; “My parents are poor peasants in Chipinge, They could not have afforded to pay for my university education.
“Under the leadership of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the Government paid for my university education, my generation benefited from that vision.”
Dr Ellen Chenesai Rungani, who also benefited from the initiative, said she has lost an icon, a leader who had helped her fulfil her dreams.
“The death of President Mugabe has saddened me because he made a huge impact to my life and over 30 000 beneficiaries through his vision of education for all. May his dear soul rest in peace.”
“Personally I have lost a visionary leader, an icon and a son of the soil, and I will be forever grateful for the impact he made to my life and family at large,
“It will be unfair not to acknowledge his contribution as such am saddened by his passing,” she said.
Dr Rungani recalls how she was in desperate need to further her education and the former President came to her rescue.
“I applied for the Presidential Scholarship in 2003. Being a young girl aged 20, I was desperately in need of an opportunity to study”.
She said she was called to the State House where she was informed of the opportunity
“I did not even have a passport, the former President, through the office of the director for the scholarship, assisted all of us to get passports.”
She said the scholarship opened doors for her,
“I came to Fort Hare through the Presidential Scholarship and did my undergraduate studies in Business Management from 2004 until 2006 and graduated with a distinction plus.
“This opened new opportunities for me.
I received another scholarship from the university and proceeded with further studies,” she added.