Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday capped a record 6 594 graduates at the Midlands State University (MSU) in Gweru during the institution’s 22nd blended graduation ceremony.
The colourful ceremony began shortly after 11AM when President Mnangagwa, who is the Chancellor of all State Universities, led the academic procession into the Multipurpose Hall where the graduands, their friends and relatives were waiting.
The President was accompanied by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira, MSU council chairperson Mrs Victoria Hungwe and the university’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Victor Muzvidziwa.
A total of 200 students comprising those who graduated with distinctions and academic awards attended the physical graduation ceremony and were capped by President Mnangagwa.
The rest followed the proceedings virtually in line with Covid-19 regulations.
Of the 6 594 graduates, 3 326 were female and 3 268 were male –translating to 50,4 percent female and 49,6 percent male.
Two graduates who received special mention were Brigadier General Joe Muzvidziwa, who was conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Politics and Public Management and Tapera Nyoni, a disability rights activist, who was conferred with a BSc Honours degree in Local Governance Studies.
Delivering his keynote address, Prof Muzvidziwa said the MSU community is exceedingly proud to report that the first 15 students who enrolled for the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery successfully completed their programme.
“I wish to salute the students, who despite the tough environment in the past two years, have persevered; your parents, guardians and sponsors have also sacrificed so much for you to reach this milestone. You have been determined and raised the MSU flag high. Thank you.
I implore you to continue to support your university as its true ambassadors,” he said.
Prof Muzvidziwa said MSU has re-oriented itself towards research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Your Excellency and Chancellor, we have cause for celebration as you will later today officially open the MSU National Language Institute; tour the Pharmaceutical and Food Processing Plant and lay the Foundation Stone for the MSU National Pathology Research and Diagnostic Centre.
Government is fully funding the three projects. For this, we are truly grateful,” he said.
“The MSU National Pathology Research and Diagnostic Centre is envisaged to become a regional centre of excellence in advanced clinical laboratory services and biomedical research and diagnostics.
“Brick by brick we are building infrastructure that supports the industrialisation of our country. As you often say, Your Excellency ‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo.’ (a country is developed by its own people).”
Prof Muzvidziwa said MSU has acquired a Gas Chromatography Spectrometer and accessories under the Future Leaders African Independent Research project valued at US$200 000 which will enhance learning, research and innovation.
He said the university has also received equipment from Seeding Labs through a grant worth US$ 400 000 and managed to upgrade its teaching laboratories that have been converted into a Postgraduate Research Laboratory.
“The equipment received has applications in the Pharmaceutical, Petrochemical and Manufacturing industries as well as Occupational Hygiene Monitoring. This is expected to see the institution’s consultancy services expanding and enhancing the Midlands Province’s industry self-sufficiency in line with the devolution agenda,” said Prof Muzvidziwa.
MSU, he said, is committed to having research and innovations that respond to the needs of the people.
To this extent, Prof Muzvidziwa said one of their academics came up with an innovation inspired by the inaccessibility of the Great Zimbabwe Monuments due to their grand nature to some social groups such as those with physical disabilities, the frail and elderly, and those constrained by finance, distance, travel restrictions occasioned by Covid-19 and time.
He said the digital innovation copyrighted by the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Organisation (ZIPO) consists of four virtual tour interactive videos of key sites of the Great Zimbabwe Monument.
“This is a first, and the videos cover the Hill Complex, the Cultural Village, the Cleft Rock Enclosure and the Great Enclosure, including the Valley Complex. The concept can be commercialised and applied to the rest of the monuments in our country,” he added.
Prof Muzvidziwa said ZIPO also granted MSU another copyright for a farm records management system- which he said is a web-based platform allowing staff at a farm to enter and store data from remote fields in digital form.
“Your Excellency and Chancellor, three of our inventors have come up with an innovation that speaks to NDS1 National Priority 2 (Food and Nutrition Security) and more specifically, the value of indigenous trees, herbs and grasses for food processing.
‘The innovation is premised on development of commercial juice, jam and dried fruit snacks from Zimbabwean indigenous fruits. These food products contain phytochemicals that have medicinal properties,” he said.
Prof Muzvidziwa said the MSU has also developed five products with pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications from lippia javanica (zumbani/umsuzwane).
These, he said, are undergoing Intellectual Property Rights protection processes.
“Your excellency and Chancellor, the future is high-tech and it is in Artificial Intelligence. MSU has developed a facial recognition and object detection system using AI, and machine learning.
‘The innovation has applications in the security sector and national registry.
“Four innovators have designed functional clothing for the physically challenged. These clothing designs accommodate various handicaps,” said Prof Muzvidziwa.
He said in the area of collaborations, research, consultancy and community engagement, MSU academics have an increased their presence on the local and global scene.
“Illustratively, our grants portfolio is diverse and has grown significantly. We have 26 active research grants and seven active consultancies,” said Prof Muzvidziwa.