Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday capped a record 3 290 graduates at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo during the institution’s 27th graduation ceremony.
The graduation was described as a landmark achievement in the history of the 30-year-old university in terms of numbers.
The colourful ceremony began shortly after 10am when President Mnangagwa, who is the Chancellor of all State universities, led the academic procession into the Ceremonial Hall where the graduands, their friends and relatives were waiting.
The President was escorted by Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, his deputy, Cde Raymore Machingura and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Professor Fanuel Tagwira.
Also present were Nust council chair Engineer Alvord Mabena and the university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Engineer Mqhele Dlodlo.
A handful of graduates comprising those who graduated with distinctions and academic awards attended the physical event while others followed proceedings virtually in line Covid-19 regulations.
Those who graduated with distinctions and first-class degrees were 244.
A total of 326 graduates were capped physically by the university’s Chancellor, President Mnangagwa.
A total of 311 graduates were from the Nust affiliate institutions which included Gwanda State University (GSU), Harare, Masvingo and Kwekwe Polytechnics and the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Administration Management (ZIPAM).
Out of those who graduated, 2 342 were under-graduates, 877 attained Masters’ degrees, three Master of Philosophy degree, eight PhDs while 60 graduates were awarded post-graduate diplomas in different disciplines.
There were also graduates in degrees which were being awarded for the first time which include Bachelor of Science Special Honour Degree in Earth Sciences, Bachelor of Technology Honour Degree in Electronic Engineering in collaboration with TelOne, Bachelor of Engineering Honours Degree in Mining Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering Honours Degree in Geometrics and Surveying in collaboration with GSU and Master of Engineering Degree in Environmental Processing Engineering which was offered in collaboration with Kwekwe Polytechnic.
Two graduates, Mr Tapiwanashe Bhibho (Bachelor of Engineering Honours Degree in Civil and Water Engineering) and Mr Justin Salani (Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Publishing) were each honoured with the Emmerson Mnangagwa Chancellor’s Award, which was accompanied by a prize of US$1 000.
Among the graduates were Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Prof Solwayo Ngwenya who attained a doctorate in statistics, provincial information officer for Matabeleland South Mr Austin Nyathi and former Chronicle correspondent Ms Andile Tshuma who both attained Masters in Journalism and Media Studies.
Former Chronicle intern Brenda Zinyuke who graduated with a BSc Honours Degree in Journalism and Media Studies was awarded the best graduating news writer.
Some of the 35 South Sudan students who were studying at Nust on a Government-to-Government scholarship programme also graduated yesterday.
They graduated in applied science, commerce, engineering, medicine, built environment communication and information science. South Sudanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Gabriel Riak Mako witnessed the graduation ceremony.
At least 54 percent of the graduates were males while 46 percent were females.
Delivering his keynote address, Prof Dlodlo challenged graduates to put to practice the knowledge they received from the institution to contribute to the country’s innovation and industrialisation drive.
“A total of 3 290 students graduating today is indeed milestone for Nust. Out of these, we have eight PhDs and among them are some of the leading scientists both medical and applied that are members of staff at this university,” he said.
“We are graduating all these innovative and entrepreneurial graduands now graduates ready to drive the country’s innovation and industrialisation.”
He singled out 23-year-old Tafadzwa Banga who graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, for making history after he was selected to be one of the 10 Africans to participate in the African space industry 2021 class of under 30-year-olds.
“We have our potential future leader in the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) due to what we have seen on the ground. We applaud our students and their supervisors for some of the outstanding achievements,” said Prof Dlodlo.
“They have taught us to rethink, refocus and redesign our role and contribution in the journey towards the empowered and prosperous upper middle-income society in line with Vision 2030.”
Banga is the founder of Young Inventors Organisation at Nust.
In 2018, he led a team of students from Young Inventors Organisation who won a regional hackathon competition in South Africa, which was organised by the University of Oxford and Nepad SANBIO.
He is also the Space Generation Advisory Council national point person for Zimbabwe.
Last year, he also led a team of engineering students who launched a student-designed electronic payload in near space using a high-altitude balloon, which made significant impact in the awareness of space education and breast cancer.
Prof Dlodlo thanked the President for introducing and sponsoring the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Chancellor’s Award.
“His Excellency and Chancellor, Dr ED Mnangagwa has been our number alumnus since 2019 and from that day, he started giving Nust a good practical example for all our alumni before they take their oath to the grave,” he said.
Prof Dlodlo also thanked President Mnangagwa for conferring the Nust Applied Genetic Testing Centre (AGTC) with the Medal of Meritorious Service Commendation Award.
The AGTC assisted in the identification of more than 150 Cyclone Idai victims who were buried unidentified in Mozambique.
Prof Dlodlo said the President also awarded Nust with the Jairos Jiri Humanitarian Award for its outstanding work in practicalising the heritage-based Education 5.0 in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.