Mbabane: Earn your discharge by service

Latest updates – Monday, 04-Mar-2013 12:54

Man of the moment flanked by his adoring fans-his students

“Earn your discharge by service”

According to Dr Loyiso Mbabane, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research, not enough people in this day and age earn their discharge by service.

Mbabane mentioned this as he was welcoming guests to the awarding of the Professor Emeritus Status to a great health professional, Professor Lizo Mazwai. This prestigious ceremony took place in Mthatha at the Health Resource Centre on February 27.

Dr Mbabane shunned the idea of people who think things will just fall into their laps, people who do not work hard to develop themselves, their communities and societies as a whole. He urged people to learn a thing or two from Professor Mazwai’s long journey in trying to make South Africa a better place through his dedication to a better, more effective health system.

“It is an honour for me to be here today for this great milestone, to witness a man receiving something he truly deserves because of his dedication and hard work,” said Mbabane.

Walter Sisulu University awarded Professor Mazwai with this honour for his contribution to the development of Medical Education in South Africa. Apart from his many endeavours of changing SA’s health woes through research and other means, Mazwai has also played an immense role in the success of WSU’s own Faculty of Health Sciences.

According to Professor Khaya Mfenyana who heads the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, credit has to be given where it is due.

Professor Mazwai has had an illustrious career within the medical industry. He rose from humble beginnings and worked his way to the top. His career rose from Professor of Surgery and Chief Specialist, WSU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital (1991-2009) to WSU’s Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (1994-2007), Associate Fellow and Council Member College of Surgeons of South Africa (1996) and Senior Vice President Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (2002-2004).

Prof Mazwai is currently the Specialist General Surgeon at Life Health Care St Mary’s Private Hospital in Mthatha and a volunteer Consultant: Undergraduate and Post graduate Education and Training in Surgery at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital Mthatha.

Amongst his many different hats Professor Mazwai will also be part of three history making strategic planning committees who will turn South Africa’s health situation around. This will happen in three ways: as a member of the Ministerial Clinical task team focusing on upgrading academic hospitals, as a member of the provincial planning commission tasked with improving the health outcomes of people with the Eastern Cape and lastly as the current Chairman of the Board of Medical Research Council of South Africa.

Professor Mazwai gracefully accepted his award and called it the ‘permanent link to WSU and which he will cherish for a lifetime’.

“You will agree with me that this is not just a special occasion for the university but a unique honour for me to receive this award. I receive and accept the award with gratitude and humility for indeed it is gracious of an institution to recognise one of its own in this fashion. I feel as though I’ve come full circle,” explained Mazwai.

He continued that the work he has done over the years couldn’t have been possible without a solid foundation of love and understanding from his family especially his children who endured a lot of moves and different schools all in the name of helping their father to fulfill his destiny or calling.

“I have received many academic honours in my life for many different works that I have been a part of over the years. The last academic honorary fellowship I received was in 2011 from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. At the time I thought it was the highest honour but today I feel elevated to a lifetime achiever,” added Mazwai.

He went on to say that he hopes the feeling of lifetime achiever will not slow him down because there is still a lot of work that needs to done for the province and the country.

In his narration of a 20-year struggle to achieve higher education and a specialist education under the then apartheid regime, Mazwai mentioned a few stories about his past life. One particular story that had the crowd in awe was that at one point he was a labelled as a ‘stateless citizen’ by the then South African government when he tried to apply for a visa to go to England for his studies, making it difficult to do so.

He explained that these stories are testimony for his students and other passionate souls who believe they have something to offer the world to not give up on their dreams no matter what difficulties lay ahead.

Mazwai made a call to people to start a moral revival. “Apart from intellectual knowledge, heroes and icons of tomorrow need to take lessons from those of the past and be simple down-to-earth people because through humility greatness can be achieves,” reiterated Mazwai.

By Oyanga Ngalika