Zim scientist lands top AU post


One of the country’s top scientists, Gatsha Mazithulela, has been appointed vice-chairperson of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (Afcone).


Mazithulela will deputise George Ochilo Ayacko Mbogo of Kenya for three years.

The appointments were made last week during the fifth ordinary session of the African Union (AU) at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mazithulela is a senior business executive with over 10 years of strategy and board-level experience in diverse high technology industrial research environments including large-scale nuclear energy industries.

Listed among his achievements are the Fogarty Aids International Training and Research Scholarship at Johns Hopkins University in the United States (2004), Rockefeller Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship (1995 to 1998), post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Nottingham, and visiting scientist at DuPont Incorporated. He was awarded support from the UK-South Africa Science and Technology Research Fund in 1997. His interests extend to current affairs and military strategy.

Mazithulela was born in 1971 and did secondary education in Bulawayo and was among the 270 pioneers at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) when the institution first opened its doors in 1991.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons) in 1994 and received a Rockefeller Foundation doctoral scholarship through the Office of the President to study genetic engineering at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom.

Mazithulela graduated with a PhD in genetic engineering at the age of 27 and worked in the US and the UK. He obtained an MBA in London.

He created his own piece of history by becoming the first Nust graduate to obtain a PhD in 1998 after accepting a challenge from the institution’s founding Vice-Chancellor Phineas Makhurane.

Mazithulela obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours in biology and biochemistry in 1994 at Nust.

He holds an MBA in the valuation of new technologies using real options in financial mathematics. He has served as an innovation manager for CSIR’s Biochemtek division, director of the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative at the South African Medical Research Council and managing director of Secure Plan Investment Limited in the UK.

He served as a board member for the Cape Biotechnology Trust, Anvir Biopharmaceticals (Pty) Ltd and chairperson of Elevation Biotechnology (Pty) Ltd.

He also served as National Research Foundation of South Africa vice-president, Nuclear Technology Products (Pty) Limited, South Africa, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation corporate development consultant.

Back home, he served as a director in former Senior minister Simon Khaya Moyo’s Office in the last government.