Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday capped 2 342 graduates from various faculties at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo.
A total of 1 618 were undergraduate degree recipients, 62 postgraduate diplomas, 614 masters degrees, two Master of Philosophy degrees and 10 Doctor of Philosophy Degrees.
A total of 12 international students graduated in collaboration with Ba Isago University in Botswana.
Addressing delegates at the graduation ceremony, Nust acting Vice Chancellor Professor Samson Sibanda said the university had positioned itself as a national leader in offering DNA testing services through its Applied Genetic Testing Centre.
He said the testing centre is aimed at generating income for the university.
“The university does this through the provision of affordable, high quality DNA testing services for human, animal, crop and pathogen identification. The centre has a national client base, as it has served people who travel to Nust from all the country’s 10 provinces.
“To date the centre has solved hundreds of paternity cases and assisted the ZRP CID homicide section to investigate numerous rape, murder and burglary cases,” said Prof Sibanda.
He said missing persons’ remains have been positively identified, suspected murderers linked to crime scenes and in some cases wrongly accused rapists have been acquitted by DNA analysis generated at the DNA testing centre.
“Recently the centre got a grant to expand its portfolio service courtesy of the Research, Development and Commercialisation of Innovation Fund from our ministry.
“Expanded services at the centre will include HIV viral load testing, food and agriculture, stakeholder training and awareness workshops targeting ZRP officers, lawyers and the judiciary,” said Prof Sibanda.
He added that the services offered at the centre will contribute towards socio-economic advancement of the country as they fall within the social services delivery cluster of the country’s economic blue-print, ZimAsset.
The Acting Vice Chancellor said Nust, as a prime STEM institution, alongside other African academic and research institutions has been identified as a strategic implementing partner institution in Monitoring of Environment for Security in Africa (Mesa) programmes at Sadc level.
“The Mesa programme has extended to capacity building in the selected universities within the Sadc members states through training and the provision of infrastructure aimed at strengthening regional and national policy frameworks.
“In June 2016, Nust received a donation of satellite data receiving equipment from Mesa-Sadc, which will augment our efforts at setting up the Nust Geo-Spatial Technology Laboratory.”
Prof Sibanda said the university will continue working towards its target of at least 50 percent female students studying at the institution in line with the Sadc Protocol on Education as well as increasing the number of STEM students.
“The male: female percentage distribution is 59,2 percent males and 40,79 percent females. This figure is far short of the university’s target of at least 50 percent females in line with the Sadc Protocol on Education. We will continue to work towards improving the situation.
“In terms of distribution, at undergraduate level, 46, 11 percent are in STEM while 53, 89 percent are in non-stem disciplines. This is far short of the target and mandate figure of 70 percent in STEM disciplines as outlined in the Williams Commission. However, these reports will reflect in our graduation statistics in future,” said Prof Sibanda.
Notable people who graduated yesterday include Sunday News editor Limukani Ncube who graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He swept all the accolades that were on offer — the Vice Chancellor’s prize, Nust Book Prize and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) for best post graduating student.
Former Sunday News news editor, now ZimPF spokesperson Methuseli Ncube, Zimpapers Social Media editor Vusumuzi Dube and Nust communications and marketing officer Mrs Lindiwe Nyoni and journalist Nothando Mpofu also graduated with Master of Science Degrees in Journalism and Media Studies.
Umthunywa senior reporter Nobuhle Mgwaqo graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Journalism and Media Studies.
Meanwhile, one of the graduating students was whisked away by security agents from the venue after disturbing the proceedings.
Rodwell Nyika created confusion among delegates after he stood up and shouted: “The president must go, we don’t have jobs.”
He was quickly taken away by security agents and proceedings went on smoothly.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Cde Eunice Nomthandazo Moyo and ministers of state from other provinces graced the occasion.
Also in attendance were Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Permanent Secretary Dr Machivenyika Mapuranga, Vice Chancellors and Pro Vice Chancellors from other universities, principals from polytechnics and teachers’ colleges as well as representatives from Zimche. — @pamelashumba1