Honourable Mashele, who hails from KaMalamule in Bushbuckridge sits on four Joint Committees: Constitutional Review, Mineral Resources Energy, Police and Public Works and Infrastructure. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government Administration, and a Development degree from the University of South Africa, and says receiving a qualification from UMP was a dream come true.
“As young activists we participated and lobbied for government to establish a university in Mpumalanga. So, when it was finally built and opened I wanted to be among those who have qualifications from the institution,” he says.
The politician, who is fondly known as Tim, believes that developmental studies will assist him in contributing towards and also building on and broadening his understanding of what is needed for the development of the province and the country.
Honourable Mashele, 41, registered at UMP in June 2019 and the following month he became a member of parliament which became a challenge for him. He says balancing his personal life and his studies was not an easy task.
“I was committed to making everything work out. Where there is a will it happens, that is why I manage to balance my time very well. It was difficult and not easy. However, I had to work an extra mile so that I can complete my studies on time,” adds the father of two who says he had to cut down on his leisure time and that often his time with his family was compromised.
Commitment and balance
He advised young people to stay in the university until they obtain their master's degrees before going to work and starting their families.
“Universities do not offer special treatment because someone is an adult, working or married,” he says, adding that studying under the lockdown had its advantages and disadvantages.
"It would be a good thing if UMP can introduce remote studying full-time because it will continue to assist people who are always at work and have families to have a chance to study. People who stay far from the university will also have a chance to study without having had to travel in and out of the province,” he points out.
“The disadvantage was that we were all panicking because we were not sure how our studies were going to continue under the strict lockdowns, and the advantage was that we were allowed to study remotely, which succeeded."
Honourable Mashele graduated with an Honours Degree in Development Studies.
When asked how the lecturers and students were treating him since he was a public figure, Mashele said he was happy with the way he was treated at the institution.
“We were treated the same which is a good thing. My message to young people who want to emulate me is that they must know that life will never be easy especially if one is a young man or woman from the rural dusty village of Mpumalanga. The good thing is that in South Africa it is possible for a child of a gardener or cleaner to study until completing their studies without paying a fee as long there is will power.”
He further urges young people to make sure they choose careers that offer them opportunities, and that they do not study just for the sake of studying. He also encourages locals to make use of the University of Mpumalanga, instead of moving to institutions outside of the province.
@ Story Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.