Bulawayo bids Makhurane farewell

The Herald

Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
BULAWAYO yesterday bade farewell to national hero and National University of Science and Technology (NUST) founding Vice Chancellor Professor Phineas Mogorosi Makhurane, with academics leading a procession to pay their last respects to the illustrious academic, ahead of his burial in Gwanda today.

Prof Makhurane died at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo last Saturday aged 79.

Academics at NUST, led by the institution’s Vice Chancellor Professor Mqhele Dlodlo, held a send-off procession in honour of the revered academic who founded the institution in 1991.

Prof Makhurane was on Wednesday declared a national hero by the zanu-pf Politburo.

He will be laid to rest at his rural home in Gungwe, Gwanda South, today as per his wishes, his family said.

A brief farewell ceremony attended by staff members, Government officials and the Bulawayo community was held at Nust.

Nust council chairman Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi said it was befitting for the institution to recognise his vision and efforts by bidding him farewell where it all started.

“It was at this place on the 26th of October 1991 that Professor Makhurane, the founding Vice Chancellor of Nust, laid this foundation stone you see today. Prof Makhurane transformed a forest into this centre of excellence that has groomed graduates who are not only certificate holders, but have taken centre stage in Zimbabwe’s industries and beyond. Loosely put, Prof Makhurane is Nust. Kaqhatshwanga njengabanengi bethu abalapha. Nguye owasungula i Nust. Silapha kungemisebenzi yakhe,” he said.

Ambassador Nsimbi expressed gratitude to the zanu-pf Politburo which saw it fit to declare Prof Makhurane a national hero.

“His vision and works prove beyond measure that this is a befitting status. As such we would like to thank the State for the support it has rendered to this great programme,” he said.

Prof Dlodlo narrated Prof Makhurane’s family tree and said he was happy to be among Vice Chancellors who were nurtured and groomed by the respected academic.

After the send-off service, the body was taken to Mzilikazi Barracks from where it was flown to Gungwe for burial today.

The body was seen off by the Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs Cde Abednico Ncube, Mat South provincial administrator Ms Sithandiwe Ncube, security forces and family members.

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.

Vice President Cde Kembo Mohadi announced the zanu-pf Politburo’s unanimous decision to accord Prof Makhurane hero’s status on Thursday morning at the late academic’s home in Fourwinds suburb, Bulawayo.

He said the decision to honour Prof Makhurane with national hero status was in recognition of his contribution to the country’s education sector.

“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, Prof Makhurane excelled and had contributed quite a lot to what Zimbabwe is today and therefore that recognition should not go unnoticed.”

Prof Makhurane was born in Gwanda in 1939 and did his primary school 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 Masters’ degree and a 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. He was the founding National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Vice Chancellor.

After leaving Nust, Prof Makhurane was tasked by Government to be 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 Gwanda State University.

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.