‘Go well, de­voted prof and cadre’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - ORBITIUARIES - Dr Du­miso Dabengwa

I FEEL hon­oured to be in­vited to make a state­ment on the oc­ca­sion of the fu­neral ser­vice for one of the most dis­tin­guished sons and daugh­ters of this coun­try, Pro­fes­sor Phinias Makhu­rane.

Many young, and in­deed even older, cit­i­zens will be sur­prised be­cause they have known Prof Makhu­rane only as an aca­demic who fo­cussed his en­er­gies on get­ting qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing for Zim­babwe and hardly as a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist.

Yet the strug­gle for In­de­pen­dence and free­dom was in­trin­si­cally con­nected to the de­sire for ed­u­ca­tion be­cause the op­pres­sion and dis­crim­i­na­tion of black peo­ple by the colo­nial racist regime was an­chored on de­nial of ac­cess to es­sen­tial ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing for the ma­jor­ity.

That is why the line be­tween pol­i­tics and ed­u­ca­tional am­bi­tion was very thin.

Young Makhu­rane took an ac­tive in­ter­est in pol­i­tics while at High School and was a mem­ber of ZAPU’s Youth Wing while at the Univer­sity of Rhode­sia and Nyasa­land (now Univer­sity of Zim­babwe) in the mid-1960s.

He con­tin­ued his con­tact and ac­tiv­i­ties with the party as it geared it­self for the armed strug­gle.

Se­nior cadres, my­self in­cluded, some­times used his res­i­dence in Botswana in the early years of the strug­gle to es­cape from pub­lic places.

The house was, of course, a fre­quent refuge for young peo­ple en route to study abroad or while look­ing for schol­ar­ships and con­tacts abroad.

As a stu­dent in Swe­den af­ter leav­ing Botswana, Phinias Makhu­rane be­came the nat­u­ral or­gan­iser and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Zim­babwe stu­dents in Scan­di­navia be­fore the party ap­pointed a full-time Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Swe­den.

Thus even while pur­su­ing his stud­ies, Phineas Makhu­rane com­bined ed­u­ca­tion with sup­port for ZAPU ac­tiv­i­ties.

It is re­mark­able that while he worked on the African Vir­tual Univer­sity and rep­re­sented the In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity Ex­change Fund, Makhu­rane pro­vided crit­i­cal sup­port to ed­u­ca­tional needs and ac­tiv­i­ties of the lib­er­a­tion move­ments from Zim­babwe, South Africa and Namibia, among other in­sti­tu­tions.

For us he was one of those who shaped our pro­grams through ad­vice and tech­ni­cal sup­port to­wards train­ing of fu­ture aca­demic and tech­ni­cal per­son­nel in African and other coun­tries.

He pro­vided lit­er­a­ture and other ma­te­ri­als for all sorts of needs.

Pro­fes­sor Makhu­rane did not just work with ed­u­ca­tional and tech­ni­cal in­sti­tu­tions, he also sourced and pro­vided ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als and fi­nan­cial sup­port to po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and de­tainees when­ever pos­si­ble.

This is be­cause he saw it as es­sen­tial that those in­tend­ing to run coun­tries and their in­sti­tu­tions at some point needed to be pre­pared for their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and fu­ture roles.

As ZAPU we were for­tu­nate that he was able to sup­port the party’s ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, par­tic­u­larly when in the 1970s the war led to in­flux of young boys and girls who were too young to be in­volved in the armed strug­gle.

The ed­u­ca­tional needs of girls at Free­dom Camp and those of boys at Ja­son Ziya­papa Moyo Camp be­fit­ted im­mensely from Makhu­rane’s work.

When we re­turned home, Pro­fes­sor Makhu­rane con­tin­ued to be in touch while re­tain­ing his usual pro­fes­sional ob­jec­tiv­ity and non-par­ti­san­ship. He then joined the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe. Mean­while, af­ter the merger of ZAPU and Zanu through the Unity Ac­cord, ZAPU de­cided to cre­ate a pres­sure group called the Mata­bele­land Ac­tion Group. Its main pur­pose was to spear­head the de­vel­op­ment of Mata­bele­land.

It com­prised all ZAPU Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee who merged into the New ZANU-PF.

The pres­sure group was chaired by the late Cde Syd­ney Malunga.

It man­aged to push for the es­tab­lish­ment of the Na­tional Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy, con­struc­tion of a new ma­ter­nity wing at Mpilo Hos­pi­tal and push the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Zam­bezi Wa­ter Project.

For the univer­sity, we had Prof Phinias Makhu­rane in mind. We were happy that he got ap­pointed as the first Vice-Chan­cel­lor of Nust.

We are proud to have been cho­sen as a po­lit­i­cal path by Prof Phinias Makhu­rane, who showed that strong con­vic­tions and rig­or­ous pro­fes­sion­al­ism can go to­gether.

We of­fer our con­do­lences to the fam­ily at this hour, but also take so­lace that we are cel­e­brat­ing a life well lived by a de­voted hus­band, fa­ther, com­rade, and col­league. ◆ This is an abridged ver­sion of a state­ment to The Sun­day Mail by ZAPU pres­i­dent Dr Du­miso Dabengwa fol­low­ing the death of Na­tional Hero Pro­fes­sor Phinias Makhu­rane

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