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21 November 2020
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By A Correspondent- President Mnangagwa yesterday capped 3 507 graduates at Midlands State University (MSU)’s 21st graduation ceremony held at its main campus in Gweru.

Due to Covid-19-induced restrictions, 3 397 had their degrees and awards conferred virtually and 110 physically.

A total of 2 670 graduated with Bachelor’s degrees, 837 with Master’s degrees and 11 with Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Presenting the graduands to the President, who is also the Chancellor of the University, MSU Vice Chancellor Professor Victor Muzvidziwa said 51,8 percent of the graduands were females.

“Your Excellency and Chancellor, we are presenting to you a total of 3 507 graduands, 51,8 percent of whom are females and 48,2 percent are males. Of these, 2 670 are graduating with Bachelor’s degrees and 837 with Master’s degrees. A total of 11 will today graduate with Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Your Excellency and Chancellor, against the Covid-19 background, 3 397 will have their degrees and awards conferred virtually and 110 are physically here today,” he said.

Prof Muzvidziwa said the university’s international student community was highly diversified with 13 nationalities representing Botswana, Cameroon, China, DRC, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, UK and Zambia.

“Sixteen international students are graduating today. Nine of them are South Sudanese and seven are from Eswatini,” he said.

Prof Muzvidziwa said he was happy to report a 100 percent Covid-19 free on the part of their international students who have been able to continue with their studies.

He said despite the disruptions caused by Covid -19, they managed to teach, research, innovate and learn to be social and human in a virtual world.

“We were able to carry on with our research and teaching using digital methodologies, we taught in google classrooms. We have forged ahead by redefining and shaping this moment. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has leap-frogged us into the ICT-driven world. We have realised that a significant part of our work can now be done virtually,” he said.

Prof Muzvidziwa said the university was moving away from churning out academic professionals to more practical and innovative graduates in line with the expectations of the Second Republic.

He said MSU has been awarded by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (Aripo), a patent titled “Method for Coal Tar Modification Using Nano Particles for Road Surfacing”.

“We celebrate a truly groundbreaking modified coal tar technology that will immensely impact road infrastructure construction and has potential to be commercially successful. This invention by Mr Actor Zonde, Dr Gift Mehlana, Dr Tafadzwa Wendy Murinzi and Dr Upenyu Guyo is a new method of producing a tar product with enhanced mechanical and thermal properties recommended for use in the sub-Saharan climate. This patent now awaits commercial exploitation,” he said.

Prof Muzvidziwa said three utility models filed with Aripo are at an advanced stage of examination.

He said the university has a thriving industrial hub which was mass producing face masks and certified hand sanitisers for the market as the institution takes a leading role in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

“When Covid-19 struck, MSU rose to the challenge in many ways, Covid -19 drove a national demand for cleaning and sanitisation chemicals. With the seed capital from the Government, we set up a sanitiser production plant and repurposed our garment making factory to start producing masks. Our sanitiser is certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe and we have contributed to ensuring that there is no shortage in the supply chain. The sanitiser project has been a catalyst in our innovation and industrialisation ecosystem,” he said.

Prof Muzvidziwa said the university has also partnered various international universities in conducting research in line with the modern demands.

“Your Excellency and Chancellor, I am glad to report that MSU is collaborating with Kumba LLC of New Mexico, USA. The collaboration enables research and development of cannabis products for medical treatments such as cancer, pain alleviation and eating disorders among others,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa who had a busy day in Gweru, commissioned a textile factory at MSU Industrial Park Complex in the heavy Industrial area after the graduation ceremony.

The Industrial Park has been central in the manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the province.

The President also commissioned a million-dollar state-of-the art new lecture complex built by the University at the Commercial block at TelOne Campus named after the former and late Midlands provincial Governor and national hero Cde Cephas Msipa.

Education, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murwira and State Security Minister, Owen Ncube were among senior Government officials who were accompanying the President.