LUPANE STATE University (LSU) acting vice-chancellor McLean Bhala has died.
He was 60. Bhala, the founder of Matabeleland North’s only tertiary institution, died yesterday morning at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo after complaining of heart problems.
LSU’s spokesperson Zwelithini Dlamini said Bhala’s death came as a shock since he was at work last week.
“We just received the message this morning (yesterday) that he had passed on,” he said. “We have not yet been updated by the family on what might have caused his death.
“We did not know he was unwell as he was on duty just before this holiday and did not complain of anything.”
Bhala, a former senior lecture at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), headed the committee that laid the ground for the establishment of LSU in 2004.
Last week Bhala was among candidates that were interviewed for the LSU’s permanent
“He was inaugurated as the pro- vice chancellor of the university and later appointed acting vice-chancellor (in 2004),” Dlamini said.
“Last week he attended vice- chancellor interviews and we were still waiting for the results at the time of his death.
We were hopeful that he would land the post. Unfortunately we have lost him before the results of the interviews are released. Bhala was a father figure and a friend of all the people both staff and students.
“He would take part in the interviews and remember all the names of people interviewed.”
He described Bhala as a devoted Christian, scholar and a father figure at LSU.
“Looking at the work he has done in terms of education it is so great and we hoped that since we were relocating to the university’s new campus in Lupane, he would pull through all the work needed to be done to enable the institution to be fully functional,” Dlamini said.
“He loved education and he encouraged people to go to school unlike other leaders who would want to be exclusively educated.”
Bhala taught polymer sciences at Nust and was a dean in the Faculty of Applied Sciences for several years.
He held qualifications such as the T3 Junior Teachers’ Certificate which he obtained from Umtali Teachers’ College between 1973 to 1975, a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, (Polymer Technology) from HICT-Burgas, Bulgaria (1978 to 1984).
He also had post graduate qualifications obtained from Queens University, Kingston, Ontario between 1986 and 1987, PhD (Rubber Processing and Engineering)from LUT-Loughborough, UK and a Diploma in Business Leadership from the Zimbabwe Institute of Management.
Bhala is survived by his wife Tryphine and six children. Mourners are gathered at “11 Brahams Road, Barham Green.”