University bids farewell to Registrar Mhlanga

“IT is my time to rest and focus on serving the community,” said Mr Fidelis Mhlanga to his colleagues and friends who had gathered on the 6th of May 2020 to bid farewell to him.

 A reception was held for staff to share their best wishes for the Registrar’s retirement.

“I acknowledge my achievements that you celebrate today because of the teamwork and cooperation of the NUST community. The groundsmen working in the field and the professionals in the offices can contribute to the vision of the institution if they all work together in harmony,” he said.

Always clad in suit and tie, rightfully portraying his corporate image as the company secretary, the “Reg” as he was affectionately known, depicts a life-well lived, a profession well-executed, yet a mind that still has much to offer to the larger community outside of NUST perimeters.

For someone who invested a third of his life, 26 years of service to be precise, a big send-off was befitting. But because of COVID-19 lockdown, NUST management, with social distancing in place, converged to celebrate Mr Mhlanga’s service, commitment and self-less dedication to his work.

He joined the University on the 1st of May 1994, three years after it opened its doors to the first intake, as Assistant Registrar in the Faculty of Applied Sciences before rising through the ranks.

11 years of his service to NUST were spent as Registrar, a position he held until his retirement on the 30th of April 2020.

Described as the “Institutional Memory”, Mr Mhlanga’s role was to provide guidance on university regulations, and ensure the institution is compliant as determined by the vast higher education bodies NUST subscribes to.

“Mhlanga lived to ensure that NUST complied with regulations as prescribed by our parent Ministry and other education bodies,” said Ms Vivian Dube, the Deputy Registrar – Administration, in her farewell remarks.

She added that Mr Mhlanga leaves behind his footprints and fingerprints on many NUST official documents such as University policies, degree certificates among others.

“He kept the university going because his emphasis was that all operations should be guided by policy,” highlighted Dr Sibongile Kamusoko, the Dean of Students.

She described him as a professional mentor and admired how Mr Mhlanga mediated student matters by upholding high levels of professionalism.  

Prof Dumisani Hlatywayo, the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, also concurred.

Speaking on behalf of the academic community, Prof Hlatywayo, said Mr Mhlanga was the “work-horse for NUST” yet represented human-kindness and dealt with issues rationally and within University regulations.  

After spending two-and-half decades at NUST, Mr Mhlanga has worked and interacted with many people.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mqhele Dlodlo, has worked with Mr Mhlanga “twice”.

Prof Dlodlo, one of the first academics to join NUST at its early years before leaving to seek international and regional exposure, served as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, where he interacted with Mr Mhlanga.

Prof Dlodlo left for South Africa in 2004, and upon his return as the 3rd Vice Chancellor in 2018, he found Mr Mhlanga as the first person to talk to as the University Registrar.

In his remarks at the farewell event, Prof. Dlodlo disclosed that it was because of Mr Mhlanga’s sound and rational advice that he made the decision to accept the call to serve the University a second time around.  

“As Vice-Chancellor beginning my term of office with a new strategy for the institution, I knew I had to first sell my vision, stance and strategic direction for the University to the Registrar if I was to get a buy-in from all other stakeholders, and Mr Mhlanga was the right person to help share the vision to the rest of the NUST community,” revealed Prof. Dlodlo.

“Knowing that Registrars run universities, Mhlanga was key in the devolution strategy within the University as he helped people understand what it meant. Mhlanga was NUST personified because all operations of NUST required his skills and leadership,” explained the Vice Chancellor.

Mr Emmanuel Phiri, the now Acting Registrar, highlighted how his career and professionalism were edified because of Mr Mhlanga’s advice and mentorship throughout his years at NUST.

“At first, I thought Mr Mhlanga was bothering me when he would assign me to serve on various University committees. It is only now that I realise that he was grooming me to be a professional in the field,” said Mr Phiri adding that Mr Mhlanga’s secret to success lay in perseverance, dedication and commitment to work. 

He noted that Mr Mhlanga was a father figure to him and many other staff members as he encouraged the NUST community to put aside personal agendas and unite for the good of the University. 

Prof Yogeshkumar Naik, the Pro Vice-Chancellor – Research and Academic Affairs, said NUST will always be indebted to Mr Mhlanga’s contributions and the NUST community can only wish him well in his retirement.

As his parting shot, Mr Mhlanga encouraged all members of staff in their various units to aim to contribute towards achieving the vision of NUST through teamwork and cooperation.

Also in attendance to celebrate the life of Mr Mhlanga at NUST were the Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor – Innovation and Business Development, Dr Peter Nkala, the Librarian, Ms Kathrine Matsika, and the Acting Bursar, Ms Tholakele Ncube, among other senior officers of the University.

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