Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter—
THE family of the late former National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Vice Chancellor, Professor Lindela Rowland Ndlovu has accused the institution’s leadership of causing his sudden death. Prof Ndlovu who was buried yesterday at Lady Stanley cemetery in Bulawayo died on Wednesday barely a week after he “learnt from the newspapers” that he had been replaced as Vice Chancellor by Prof Samson Sibanda.
On Friday, the family chased the university’s council chairperson, Mike Ndubiwa, away from the funeral wake in Hillside. Speaking on Prof Ndlovu’s last days, Nust council vice chairman and uncle to the late academic, Alvord Mabena said the former Vice Chancellor died a stressed man.
He said there had been a serious onslaught to expunge him from Nust in his last days by some of his colleagues at the institution. Mabena said the university had virtually extinguished Prof Ndlovu’s immense contributions to Nust’s development over the 10 years that he was Vice Chancellor.
In condolence messages, the university did not refer to Prof Ndlovu as the former Vice Chancellor and referred to him as just another former member of staff. “Soon after reading in a newspaper that Lindela had been replaced, what shocked us was the heart-breaking onslaught on him. Very brutal and inhumane, with messages demanding that he be chased away from the house and that the cars he was using at the institution be immediately repossessed,” said Mabena.
He said the family wanted a memorable send-off for Prof Ndlovu so they decided to excuse those who were persecuting him from the burial. Before his death, said Mabena, Prof Ndlovu submitted an application to the Nust council requesting that his contract be extended to a third term.
He said the Nust council considered the application and asked him to list his achievements in the last 10 years. “The executive council went through the list and made individual recommendations.
“We went through all the councillors’ responses and what came out is that the executive committee recommended that there’s a very good case for Prof Ndlovu’s term to be extended because of the enormous work that he had done for Nust and the outstanding achievements on the international arena,” said Mabena.
He said the executive committee recommended that Prof Ndlovu be awarded a third term and forwarded their report to the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Ministry for final approval.
“After that we don’t know what happened until we saw it in the papers that his contract hadn’t been extended. All councillors were surprised that that report came back through the media and there was no one advising him,” said Mabena. Prof Ndlovu, who had been battling diabetes, collapsed and died at Galen House Medical centre where he had been rushed for a medical checkup last week. He had served Nust since 2001 as the university’s senior chemistry lecturer after joining the tertiary institution from the University of Zimbabwe.
In 2005, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor for Nust and served two terms, up to August this year. Prior to his appointment as the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Ndlovu had served as Nust’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic and Research).
He was a holder of PhD in animal nutrition with his area of study bordering on Nutritional Biochemistry that he obtained from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He played several administrative roles at Nust’s senates, councils and chaired numerous committees.
Before joining Nust he had worked as Dean of Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe where he spearheaded a major curriculum review and initiated inter-departmental research programmes.
Prof Ndlovu was instrumental in development and adoption of an institutional Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy and strengthened Nust’s research capacity. In 1988 he won an award from the International Foundation for Science / DANIDA award for excellence in smallholder livestock research.
The South African Society of Animal Science awarded him a gold medal for Research in 2007. In 2013, Prof Ndlovu received a Presidential Award for Agriculture Research by the Research Council of Zimbabwe. He also scooped the manager of the year award for the Public Sector from the Zimbabwe Institute of Management in 2007 for his leadership at Nust.
Deputy Minister of the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Ministry Godfrey Gandawa who was speaking at the burial on behalf of the Chancellor of State universities, President Robert Mugabe and Minister Prof Jonathan Moyo said his ministry had lost an “accomplished scientist”.
Deputy Minister Gandawa, a graduate of Nust said he was disappointed by the turnout of academics and scientists at Prof Ndlovu’s funeral. Nust registrar Fidelis Mhlanga spoke on behalf of the institution chronicling some of the achievements made by Prof Ndlovu during his tenure. Prof Sibanda, the Acting Nust Vice Chancellor and Ndubiwa were not at the burial.
Among the mourners were Prof Ndlovu’s predecessor Prof Phineas Makhurane, Makokoba MP, Tshinga Dube, MDC’s deputy president Thokozani Khuphe, politician Dumiso Dabengwa, academics, engineers, medical practitioners, captains of industry, students’ Bulawayo residents and vice chancellors from other state universities.
Prof Ndlovu is survived by his wife Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and three children Lindelwe, 22, Lindumuzi, 19, and Likwa, 18.