Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
THE late national hero and founding National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Vice Chancellor, Professor Phineas Makhurane, has been described as a man of purpose who produced some of the country’s top university administrators.
Prof Makhurane, who passed away last Saturday at Mater Dei Hospital aged 79, was declared a national hero but his family had already announced that he would be buried at his rural home in Gwanda today.
ZANU-PF spokesperson Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said the late national hero was a man of purpose and had left a lasting legacy for future generations.
“He was a solid person, an accomplished giant. A man of purpose. A total human being. A man of impressive skills. A man of unassuming standing and enviable humility. Those who knew him well can testify that his contribution to this nation was not only immense but immeasurable. A distinguished scholar of international repute,” he said.
Cde SK Moyo said although Prof Makhurane hailed from Matabeleland South, he belonged to Zimbabwe.
“His attributes remain a lasting legacy for generations to come. He was indeed a jewel to humanity. He has departed for higher responsibility. He will return. He was indeed a man of purpose, principled and admirable perservance. A ‘double brain’ as he was known in many informed circles. A perfect genius,” he said.
Acting Gwanda Vice Chancellor Dr Sikhulumani Bayeza Mangena described Prof Makhurane as a great man who had produced among scores of students, four vice chancellors.
“At NUST he served very well, I have not heard somebody who produced more than four academics to lead universities, I will mention a few, the Vice Chancellor of Bindura, Prof Eddie Mwenje, is his product; the Vice Chancellor of Lupane State University, Prof Pardon Kuipa; and Vice Chancellor of Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) Engineer Quinton Kanhukamwe; and the late Dr Mclean Mackson Bhala, who was Acting Vice Chancellor of Lupane State University,” said Dr Mangena.
“If you are able to show the light to produce vice chancellors what more would you expect? Furthermore, he did not tire from NUST, he said he thinks that there should be a university in Gwanda. Of course, he hails from Gwanda and he started the leadership of structuring a university in Gwanda”.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Minister Prof Amon Murwira, in a speech read on his behalf by director in the ministry Mrs Rungano Karimanzira said the country had lost a dedicated academic.
“The loss of such a dedicated academic like Prof Makhurane has come at a time when the transformation of higher education premised on our heritage was beginning to take shape.
“Surely, the ministry would have benefited from contributions from such an eminent person like Prof Makhurane particularly in shaping the national transformation agenda towards the attainment of a modernised middle-income economy by 2030,” said Prof Murwira.
He said it was through Prof Makhurane’s extraordinary appeal that thousands of students and academics were beneficiaries of his guidance at various universities and research institutions in Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
“Thus, our tribute to Prof Makhurane as an educationist is very central to the attainment of the national development agenda”.
NUST Vice Chancellor Professor Mqhele Dlodlo described the late hero as a great man and champion who was not deterred by challenges in setting up NUST.
“We are here to celebrate the life of a great man, a brother, a father and uncle, grandfather and a man who meant something to everyone that ever encountered him,” said Prof Dlodlo.
“NUST celebrates countless achievements of its visionary founder, Professor Makhurane. He was mandated to come into Bulawayo with nothing but an idea of a university of science and technology. He had no budget to speak of and was accompanied by a skeletal staff seconded from the Ministry of Higher Education. He had to think and lead”.
He said Prof Makhurane had to rely on rented rooms and premises across the city and had to invest a sizeable portion of a shoestring budget in transport as they had no campus.
He said succeeding vice chancellors tend to be challenged to drive for the achievement of his dream.
“Anyone interested in the challenges he went through must read Chapter Nine of his autobiography,” said Prof Dlodlo.
A friend to Prof Makhurane, Mr Ethan Makonese, left people in stitches when he disclosed that the late academic earned the nickname “Double Brain” following a rumour in school that he had been X-rayed and they had found that there were two brains in his head, big brains that continued to grow bigger because he was getting brighter and better.
Zapu president Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, who said he was an age mate and neighbour to Prof Makhurane, said the late hero was an academic who joined politics early in life and was a member of Zapu.
Committee of Friends Trust representatives Mr Prince Zwide Langa said Prof Makhurane chaired the trust which was founded after the realisation that there were a few graduates from Matabeleland provinces.
He said Prof Makhurane took it upon himself to go around the three provinces to find out the challenges that they faced resulting in the poor enrolment at NUST.
Mr Zwide said Prof Makhurane took 30 headmasters drawn from Matabeleland provinces on a four-day leadership training workshop and donated science subjects textbooks to various schools.
Family representatives described Prof Makhurane as a humble man who was full of humour and was passionate about seeing people getting educated.
The memorial service was attended by people from all walks of life including politicians from across the political divide, academia and the Bulawayo community.