President Mnangagwa yesterday met five Zambian students studying at Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), who are part of a personal scholarship programme he recently launched to assist students from disadvantaged families.
Known as the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa University of Zambia Scholarship Programme (ED-UNZA), the fund will benefit both Zimbabwean and Zambian students in an exchange that is expected to nurture the good bilateral relations existing between the two countries.
Zimbabwe and Zambia’s bilateral relations date back to the days of the liberation struggle, which saw Lusaka providing bases that were used as launch pads for liberation movements to wage the war against the Ian Smith regime.
President Mnangagwa was also a student at the University of Zambia.
The five Zambian students met the President, who is also Chancellor of State Universities soon after he presided over the graduation of 2 436 students.
All the five student are first years in different disciplines at CUT.
The meeting was attended by Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murwira, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and CUT Vice Chancellor Professor David Simbi.
Chronicling his life in Zambia, President Mnangagwa said he started his early life helping his parents with farming chores.
He said he was later enrolled with the University of Zambia for his Bachelor of Laws Degree.
President Mnangagwa said he attached sentimental relationship with the University of Zambia where he attained his degree.
His speech was punctuated by the cracking of jokes and a sense of nostalgia.
He chronicled an incident when his first born daughter, Mrs Farai Mnangagwa-Mlotshwa, was stolen by a Nigerian nurse in a hospital in Lusaka in 1976.
He said when the mother woke up, she discovered that her baby had been stolen.
“There was a big search for the Nigerian nurse,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said he conceived the idea of a scholarship from disadvantaged students drawn from the country’s 10 provinces to study in Zambia.
President Mnangagwa later surprised the five students when he gave them US$500 each.
In an interview, Mrs Mnangagwa-Mlotshwa, who is also one of the trustees of the scholarship fund, said her name Farai was derived from the joy that ensured when she was finally found with the assistance of Mrs Angeline Tongogara, the wife of the late Zanla Commander, Cde Josiah Tongogara.
President Mnangagwa’s launch of the scholarship programme is part of his philosophy that a nation can never develop faster than the development of its education.
The programme is separate from the general educational support rendered by the Government and is expected to outlive his presidency as well as his life.