THE rate at which politicians are obtaining higher doctorates is raising eyebrows in South Africa. EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who recently graduated with a PhD in political studies at the age of 32, grabbed headlines.
He was followed by that of City of Tshwane manager Moeketsi Mosola who graduated on Wednesday with a doctorate in Human Movement Sciences.
EFF leader Julius Malema graduated from Unisa with an honours degree in philosophy this week, after acquiring his undergraduate degree last year.
“We need to make sure that we start developing the next generation of leadership that succeeds us... so both academic qualifications and experience are important,” said Mosola.
He warns against educated leaders becoming conceited though, saying: “We cannot afford to have arrogant people serving our people, no matter how educated they are.
“People like me need to understand ours is service and not entitlement.
“I need to serve them with honour and decency and be sensitive to their plight because our people are poor in our country. The task and the duty of our generation is to make sure we leave this world a better place than when we found it. To be able to do that, we have to empower ourselves, more importantly as public servants, we have to be able to educate ourselves.”
Buti Manamela, deputy minister in the Presidency, who graduated with a Masters in Policy and Development studies last week, concurs that education is invaluable for political leaders.
“There are actually a lot of people in Parliament who are highly educated,” Manamela said.
He said close to 70 parliamentarians were still working on their research reports.
“It is because a lot of us realise the importance of enhancing our work and understanding of how society operates.
“I wouldn’t say that it (education) is enough but it is important. You can go to school but you would still mean nothing in terms of the work, if you do not have passion to serve the people.”
Both Manamela and Mosoma have not finished studying. “I am currently looking into different institutions. On top of my (plan) is the London School of Economics, then Stellenbosch or I will be going back to Wits,” says Manamela.
Early in April, almost 162 MPs and members of provincial legislatures (MPLs) completed a Wits Graduate Certificate in Governance and Leadership.
Altogether, 1 015 MPs and MPLs have participated in the programme, with over 644 attaining qualifications that will enable them to serve the country in other capacities beyond their parliamentary term.
Currently, 29 MPs are enrolled for a Masters in Governance and Public Leadership (NQF L9) at Wits.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni says politicians are role models and their actions are likely to influence their constituencies.
“Many studies have demonstrated a correlation between education and reduction of inequality, empowerment of youth and women, active citizenship, skilled labour needed in industries and greater social cohesion and reduction of prejudice,” he said.