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Leaders balance studies and activism

The adage ‘Leading by example’ was given credence by three Regional SRC members of the North Eastern Region who were awarded their qualifications at the recent graduation ceremonies held in Polokwane and Mbombela respectively.

Silinda: Education is the key to success


Mbongiseni Silinda (Chairperson: Mpumalanga Regional SRC) credits his uncle, Tony Mfanawehlela Mayile, as the person who motivated him to work hard.

Mbongiseni Silinda, Chairperson of the Mpumalanga Regional SRC, obtained a BTech in Agricultural Management. He says it was not easy trying to accommodate studies and student political activism.

This is the second qualification for this Nelspruit-bred student leader; his first being the National Diploma in Agricultural Management. During his studies for the diploma, he experienced financial difficulties to an extent that at some stage he contemplated quitting and looking for job. At the time, none of the family members was working and his parents had passed away some years ago.

According to Silinda, it was his uncle, Tony Mfanawehlela Mayile, who motivated him and gave him hope against all odds through an expression that he used to cite.

Malume used to say to me ‘akuna thuna ledlala’. It means hunger won't kill you or there is no person who has ever died of hunger. These words made me to be resilient and kept me going. I dedicate my qualifications to Malume,” he said.

What makes the qualifications that Silinda obtained memorable is that he is the first one in his family to get a university qualification.


Khomotso Khoza (Manager: Nelspruit RSC) with Mbongiseni Silinda (Chairperson: Mpumalanga Regional SRC) after the latter’s graduation

“This qualification helped me to further understand that education is far broader than anyone can expect. None of my family had the opportunity to enrol at any university or college, so by being the first one in the family to achieve this feat makes me proud. It would give the family hope,” he said.

Asked what his advice is to other student leaders, Silinda pointed out that leading, itself, is not a problem.

“The problem is when you lose sight and fail to strike a balance between academic responsibilities and student leadership responsibilities and focus only on the benefits of the university as a student leader. Without education, no matter how great your leadership skills are, you are at some point going to lose relevance. Therefore, remember that education is the key to success,” he said.

Silinda’s target is to study further, hopefully for a master’s degree and later a PhD in an agricultural-related discipline.

“The intention is not really to be a farmer. Instead, I want to be a lecturer, professor, and specialist in the agriculture field,” he concluded.

Leso: Education is the passport to the future

Reshoketswe Leso, Undergraduate Officer of the Limpopo Regional SRC, obtained a Diploma in Law. She says the qualification has given her life a purpose that will allow her to continue chasing my dreams and following my passion. “This is also a door opener for more opportunities, bigger and better things to come in my career,” she said.

Asked what her message is to student leaders, the Zebediela-born-and-bred student leader borrowed Malcom X’s expression.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those prepared for it today”.


Prof. Moloko Sepota (Director: North Eastern Region) (centre) with Masie Rapatsa and Reshoketswe Leso. The two graduates are members of the Limpopo Regional SRC.

Leso said the journey towards being educated is not always smooth. It requires hard work and focus. “Always remember why you are doing what you are doing and why you are here,” she said.

This is Leso’s first qualification. She hopes it will serve as a stepping stone to her next qualification. “My intention and goal are to complete the qualification (LLB) that I am currently registered for,” she concluded.

Rapatsa: Make education fashionable among the youth

Masie Rapatsa, Postgraduate Officer of the Limpopo Regional SRC, obtained a BCom Law degree. The Mankweng born-and-bred student leader saluted all graduates who obtained qualifications. “It was not easy. I can just say I am extremely honoured to be a Unisa graduate,” he said.


Dr Sibusiso Chalufu (Acting ED: Student Affairs and Regional Services) (centre) congratulates Masie Rapatsa and Reshoketswe Leso. The two graduates are members of the Limpopo Regional SRC.

His message to other student leaders is as follows: “Study! Study! Study! Academic excellence and progress must be the first point of departure for every registered student. Every student leader must demonstrate academic performance which will inspire the student community at large. All student leaders have a very important role to play in shaping the future of our country and the world. Leaders must balance their studies and championing students’ interest. We have a duty to make education fashionable among the youth of our country. Student leadership must pass,” added Rapatsa.

This is his first qualification. He is already setting his sights on future graduation ceremonies. “I am currently registered for postgraduate qualification in taxation,” he concluded.

*By Gilbert Mokwatedi
Manager: Communication and Marketing
North Eastern Region

Publish date: 2019/06/25