Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
President Mnangagwa yesterday capped a record 6 977 graduates at the 19th Congregation of the Midlands State University Graduation in Gweru.
Of the 6 977 graduates, 3 348 were females and 3 629 males. A total of 989 graduated with master’s degrees and three were awarded Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
Last year, 3 757 graduated from the institution of higher learning and they were from one stream and the number doubled this year, spawning chaos as the record number of graduates saw the university failing to cope with the demand for graduation regalia.
Zimpapers Group staff who graduated with Master of Science in International Affairs (MSIA), Herald managing editor Ruth Butaumocho (second from right), Senior Photographer John Manzongo (right), Senior Reporters Tendai Rupapa, Paidamoyo Chipunza and the Advertising Division’s Petros Zivengwa. —(Picture by Joseph Nyadzayo)
By Thursday night, there were reports that some of the graduates had only received their caps, but not their gowns and vice versa and yesterday scores of graduates could be seen milling around the students affairs block as early as 7am to get their graduation regalia ahead of the start of the graduation ceremony.
The regalia was only being given to students who were paid up.
“I paid the university all its dues and have been waiting since yesterday (Thursday), but I haven’t managed to get my regalia,” said Joel Ncube, one of the graduates.
MSU director of public relations Mrs Mirirai Mawere confirmed the incident, but was quick to point out that the issue was resolved amicably.
She said the problem was caused largely by graduates who failed to adhere to he university’s rules and regulations which stipulated that they should collect their regalia a day before. “We had a bit of a challenge from students who failed to collect their regalia on Thursday before the rehearsals at 2pm. They then came at once after the rehearsals and caused unnecessary pressure and some as of Thursday evening had not received their graduation regalia. At the end all the graduates received their regalia. The ceremony went well,” she said.
Away from the challenges concerning regalia, there was also congestion at the entrance to the university around 9am with parents, guardians and graduates all wanting to get into the MSU campus and Great Hall at the same time.
Security details, however, managed to control the crowd before the arrival of President Mnangagwa.
The record number of graduates was acknowledged by MSU Vice Chancellor Professor Victor Muzvidziwa, who said it was by far the largest graduation gathering in the history of the MSU.
“Among those graduating today are 100 international students drawn from Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, South Sudan and Mozambique; this is evidence that we have gradually spread our wings in our internationalization effort,” he said.
Prof Muzvidziwa said resource constraints remain a challenge and in seeking to mitigate these, the university continues to rethink ways of increasing third-stream income from entrepreneurial activities, especially in agriculture, research and innovation.
He said one of our key strategic objectives is to be “a technologically driven research intensive university and to generate problem-solving innovations for commercialisation and industrialisation. Cognisant of that, our researchers have committed themselves to cutting-edge research.
“In this vein, our researchers have secured competitive domestic and international research grants. We have a total of 15 active international grant-funded research projects. “Some of these include, Future Leaders — African Independent Research (FLAIR), Global Challenges Research Fund UK, United Nations Development Programme,
Transparency, Responsiveness, Accountability and Citizen Engagement (TRACE), Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Practical Action, University of British Columbia — (PRE-EMPT) and Care International.
Among the graduates were The Herald’s managing editor Ruth Butaumocho, Deputy News Editor (Politics) Kudakwashe Mugari and reporters John Manzongo, Tendai Rupapa and Paidamoyo Chipunza.