Last month when the University of Zimbabwe refused to accept students on the cadetship scheme because of a huge outstanding debt, the then Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Cde Stan Mudenge ordered the University to open its doors to all students regardless of financial status.
Commendable, especially coming from a man who was unpopular with Zimbabwean students because of his anti-student stances.
Now Dr Stansilaus Gorerazvo Mudenge has joined the ancestors.
An academic of some note, Dr Mudenge was born on 17 December 1941 in Masvingo. He attended Gaths Mine primary school and later Golomere Mission before sitting for his O levels at Goromonzi.
He enrolled at the University of Salisbury where he was soon expelled, followed by detention. After he was released he studied history at the University of York, and later obtained his Phd from the University of London.
Dr Mudenge lectured African History in Sierra Leone before joining the University of Lesotho where he became ZANU secretary of external affairs around 1977.
He rose through the ranks and at the time of his demise, he was the Minister of Higher Education and also MP for Masvingo North.
As Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Mudenge was very unpopular with students, as they held him responsible for the decline in standards in the country’s institutions, the lack of loans and grants, the persecution of student leaders and the disappearance of academic freedom.
The Minister will be especially remembered for chanelling our grants to students studying under the Presidential Scholarship in South Africa and the subsequent finger pointing between him and Minister Biti.
Recently, he made headlines after expressing his support for the taking of conservancies in the Save region.
Dr Mudenge also authored several books on African History.
The Minister had the misfortune- or, depending on who you ask, fortune- of outliving his wives. He lost two wives but since he was a man of able means, Dr Mudenge would always respond with another marriage.
His latest, and no doubt last, marriage was to Mildred Kada in May this year.
Dr Mudenge collapsed yesterday at Great Zimbabwe hotel in Masvingo and doctors were unable to resurcitate him.
He is survived by his 22 year old wife Mildred.
Details of the cause of death and burial
arrangements are yet to be announced.
But, as the Shona say, ‘wafa wanaka’- the dead become good, and are automatically absolved of their worldly sins, at least in public.
So farewell, Dr Mudenge, gallant son of the soil, may the ancestors welcome you home and may your judgement- if there is any- be lenient.
*Stansilaus Gorerazvo Mudenge, academic, politician, 17 December 1941- 4 October 2012*