THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) yesterday came under fire from industry captains who accused the institution of failing to impact positively towards the revival of Bulawayo industries.
Participants who attended the 2018 National Budget Statement review dialogue organised by The Chronicle Business at a city hotel said Nust, as a higher learning institution with a bias towards science and technology, should take the lead in prescribing innovative solutions that would transform industry operations in Bulawayo and the country at large.
Businessman, Mr Brian Ndlovu, provoked debate when he questioned the role of Nust in the matrix of the Bulawayo economy suggesting the institution was lacking in terms of substantial contribution to turning around industry operations.
Association for Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Victor Nyoni, weighed in saying Nust should conduct research programmes that provide solutions to Bulawayo businesses where it is located. He said the institution, through research, needs to explain causes of industry demise and provide recommendations.
“The Nust Faculty of Commerce must come up with a business magazine for Bulawayo companies. For example, Dunlop was the sole manufacturer of tyres but it has folded despite the increase in the number of vehicles. Nust must come up with explanations for what happened.
“We need quick wins because when investors come into the country want to know what really happened to such big companies. They (Nust) need to question things and develop a data base on what skills we have as a city,” said Mr Nyoni.
Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation spokesperson, Mr Dosman Mangisi, concurred saying Nust must come out of its comfort zone and prove its mettle. He suggested that the university must actively engage private stakeholders on how to make Bulawayo industries work again instead of waiting to be approached by firms.
Responding to the concerns, a Nust official who also attended the meeting said the university was doing its best to assist firms but cited challenges such as lack of funding to steer some of its projects as well as limited engagement by industry on use of their skills.
“As Nust we do not exist in isolation; we know we have a role to play in the resuscitation of Bulawayo. A few years ago we did a study on the de-industrialisation of Bulawayo. That study looked at a whole lot of factors which were contributing to the closure of industries in Bulawayo,” said the Nust official.
“We did share that study and we worked with the City Council. In a nutshell what I want to say is that Nust is available to work with people and industry.”
The dialogue was held under the theme “New Economic Order: Bringing Jobs Back to Bulawayo” and various captains of industry attended the event.