“I learnt this past year that coffee can sustain you,” said Zikalala.
“It’s one of the reasons I managed so well,” he said shortly before his graduation ceremony at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The year of study had been intense and full of challenges, especially when it came to balancing his political duties and studies.
“There were many sleepless nights and many rushed days, but I have to say that it was all worth it in the end.”
He said that people of his generation had “no excuse” not to study, if they had the time and inclination.
“Look, we are all busy. Life is busy, but if you want to work and study, that is possible. Many sacrificed a great deal during the country’s struggle for freedom, so we owe it to them and ourselves to pursue (an education).”
Zikalala, who is also the ANC’s provincial chairman, said possessing the theoretical and practical knowledge of public administration was a responsibility he did not take lightly.
“I hold a view that public representatives must be familiar with governance and administration and not just leave things to officials.
“To provide proper leadership, in this regard, public representatives need to be knowledgeable about policies and public administration.”
Zikalala’s research focus during his studies was on the societal impact of dependency caused by social security grants.
He said 16 million South Africans were the recipients of social grants.
“I wanted to explore the issue of dependency and whether people were taking advantage of the system. For example, I wanted to find out: were there young girls who were getting pregnant just to get the child-care grant?”
What he found was that many were completely depen- dent on social grants to live.
“Many are desperate and would be destitute without them. I wanted to understand this phenomenon better, at a higher level.”