Mr Bonginkosi Mshengu (69), this Graduation season’s oldest graduate at the University has been awarded a BA Honours degree in Political Science, realising his long-held desire of obtaining a postgraduate qualification.
Mshengu, who decided to return to UKZN after halting his academic career more than 30 years ago, is proud of his achievement.
‘I feel so happy to finish what I always wanted to do – my family was supportive by allowing me time to focus on my studies,’ he said.
Mshengu believes no-one is ever too old to study and encourages people of all ages to pursue their dreams while they can. ‘I might even study further!’
Mshengu began his studies at UKZN in 1988 but dropped out due to personal reasons. Despite his age, he returned to complete his honours degree after doing research on understanding the rising level of corruption and its impact on service delivery.
‘South Africa is a relatively young democracy, still emerging from the colonial past of segregation and discrimination,’ said Mshengu. ‘Writers have on many occasions stated that Blacks in general and Africans in particular have had very limited access to basic services, including education, training and skills development. The challenge therefore is to stretch the limited resources to deal with backlogs. Public sector corruption siphons off financial resources desperately needed for development.’
Mshengu’s research concluded that rising levels of public sector corruption had an impact on the delivery of services and that corruption was multi-sided and sophisticated, making it difficult to detect.
‘The question about why public sector corruption was rising in South Africa is answered with my work which clearly shows there are no consequences for corruption, while departments responsible for administering justice have been compromised. Corruption syndicates assisted by senior officials siphon millions of rands out of the system. Public sector corruption has the ability to undermine governance and worsen inequalities and poverty. The impact of corruption permeates the whole fabric of society,’ said Mshengu.
Confident in his time management skills, he managed to balance family, friends and his studies. Reflecting on memories during his studies, Mshengu said: ‘I had such a good relationship with the younger students in lectures and I hope that I inspired them to continue studying.’
He is grateful for the support he received from his family as well as the joy and pride they have for his achievement. Said his wife, Mabuyi: ‘Well done Bonginkosi! You worked very hard and deserve this.’
Mshengu, who has 35 years’ experience in the Human Resources field working for organisations in the private and public sectors, has operated at an executive level for many years as a Human Resources generalist. With a passion for leadership and community development, he also spent a number of years in the government service as a social worker.
He has managed human resources projects in Namibia and Ethiopia and successfully handled the project of implementing a performance management system for all staff below executive level at the eThekwini Municipality.
Mshengu is the past regional President of the Black Management Forum; a current member of the Mhlathuze Water Board; President of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business; and Managing Director of Bhekani Consulting.
Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela
Photograph: Alistair Nixon