By Andrew Kunambura
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday stunned journalists when he revealed that influential First Lady Grace Mugabe has pressured government to build a state-of-the-art university to be named after her husband at a cost of $1 billion.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe University would be established at the First Lady’s Manzou Farm in Mazowe.
“We have been pushed positively; the real inspiration and mover pulling together the various pieces that need to be in place has been the First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe because this is the initiative of the Robert Mugabe Foundation (RMF).
“The university will be established under the auspices of the foundation which is the responsible authority of the university,” Moyo told journalists yesterday.
Mugabe and Grace are the founding trustees of the RMF.
Moyo said the construction phase is going to start in the next six months when groups being set up to oversee its incubation under the supervision of the University of Zimbabwe submit their working plans.
Government would initially release $1 billion for the construction project.
“The State is giving a grant to the RMF for the establishment of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University. The money is coming from the Treasury.
“Cabinet has already approved a grant of $800 million towards the construction of the university while the other $200 million will go towards the establishment of a fund for research and innovation,” Moyo said.
He defended the decision to source the funds from Treasury saying although this was not a State university, the practice was normal.
“This is how it is done the world over,” he said.
The university will specialise in science and technology.
“We actually don’t know how much in the final analysis it is going to cost but it is going to be very expensive. We know from experiences of similar universities in China, Malaysia, Brazil, India and South Korea that this is a very expensive university and yet one that is very necessary.
“We therefore feel that the initiative deserves support and in the first instance from the State,” Moyo said.
According to the 2017 budget estimates of expenditure in the Blue Book, there is no budgetary provision for the university.
Moyo said the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University will be a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) institution designed to facilitate the discovery of scientific, technological and engineering solutions to improve the quality of life in Zimbabwe.
The university will concentrate on Stem areas exclusively at graduate level. Daily News