Mixed feelings about Research Expo

HARARE - THERE were mixed feelings about the Research and Intellectual Expo (RIE) held in Harare last week, the first time that such an event has been held in Zimbabwe.

The event — with the theme Leadership in Research and Intellectual Excellence in Zimbabwe – Past, Present and Future – was held to showcase research outputs and the intellectual prowess of Zimbabweans both at home and in the diaspora.

The Expo provided a platform for the exhibition of prototype products developed by Zimbabwe’s science, technology and innovation specialists, as well as opportunity for individuals and institutions to showcase their activities and achievements. Participants included intellectuals in universities, industry, research centres, business and various other organisations.

It was officially opened by Acting President, John Nkomo, who gave a rather lengthy three-hour “inaugural” Lecture about African leadership, a historical perspective.

Many invited guests and delegates, however, snored and slept while Nkomo gave the lengthy lecture. He surprisingly bashed unnamed “African leaders” in his lecture, claiming that there was nothing to show for their leadership despite the fact that some of them have “been in power for so long”. Nkomo said Africa had a wealth of knowledge but was “bankrupt” of ideas despite the fact that it was very rich in resources.

Those interviewed said while they “welcomed” the Nkomos sentiments they wondered exactly whom he was referring to when he said many “African leaders have not done anything for their nations”. They said he should, in fact, be included among those leaders because his generation kept on referring to the liberation struggle and yet had not improved Zimbabwe’s declining standard of living.

Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Stan Mudenge, whose ministry organized the event, said the RIE provided a platform to celebrate outstanding intellectual achievement by Zimbabweans. Expo chairman one of Zimbabwes top scientist Christopher Chetsanga, hailed the countrys rich reserviour of intellectual expertise. He, however, said Zimbabweans must sharpen their competitiveness and develop a culture of innovation for them to proceed and get onto the global stage.

However, top engineer Martin Manuwah, bashed the RIE, saying it was not serving any purpose at all. “Why should we spend so much money on research and not put it into serious projects,” he said in an interview.

“The problem with Zimbabweans is that we talk and talk all the time and yet get nothing done. Look at this Expo there are just too many disciplines and you can easily get confused as to what is going on right now. I think a much smaller event should have been organised because this is all about history and nothing about invention.”

Manuwah is a former engineer with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) but is currently doing private contracts with international firms scattered around the globe. He is vice chairman of the World Council for Civil Engineers (WCCE) and a past president of the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers.

An exhibitor Tapiwa Chimedza described the expo as a brilliant opportunity for his company to showcase it products. “For me RIE is a very brilliant inititive which affords Zimbabwean intellects from within and outside the country, an opportunity to come together and showcase their expertise,” he said. “As the Zimbabwe Human Capital Website, it creates an opportunity for us to further our engagement with the Diaspora-based human capital.”

Post published in: Economy

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