Master’s in Social Sciences (Politics) student, Mr Thembelani Mazibuko, made UKZN proud when he was chosen as one of four winners in the 2018 Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Budget vote article writing competition.
The competition tasks entrants with writing an essay on one of four set topics in the run-up to the budget vote with a focus on the work of the department in the past financial year and what it intends to do in the next financial year.
As part of the competition, Mazibuko was given the opportunity to attend the Budget Vote in Parliament and Post-Budget Breakfast to meet Minister of International Relations, Lindiwe Sisulu.
‘This was an amazing opportunity’, said Mazibuko. ‘I was especially excited to meet many people such as ambassadors, diplomats, retired politicians, members of the media and academics. This win has boosted my self-esteem. It is serves as a huge validation that I can achieve anything I set my mind to’, said Mazibuko, who added that meeting influential leaders was both humbling and encouraging. ‘The experience taught me that any fear one has of approaching well known leaders and personalities is self-inflicted,’ she said.
In this leg of the competition, entrants had to write an essay on BRICS and explain how South Africa’s membership of the association assists in alleviating domestic challenges. An association of five major emerging national economies, BRICS is an acronym for the combined economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
In his winning essay, Mazibuko argued that being part of BRICS helped South Africa with trade relations, arguing that the country benefits by having easier access to major markets such as China, India and Brazil. ‘BRICS gives South Africa additional diplomatic and political clout as well as the opportunity to learn from fellow developing countries which have and are continuing to overcome common challenges.
‘BRICS is a major marketing opportunity for South Africa in that the organisation’s annual summit receives extensive media coverage. This coverage changes people’s perception of South Africa and, as such, the country is increasingly seen as a destination for tourism as well as for business tourism, including conferences, summits and expos,’ he said.
Offering advice to other students keen on entering the competition, Mazibuko urged the importance of reading instructions. “Be aware of what is wanted and why; that will give you more insight into how to produce the best entry. The ability to write well will get you far in life so learn to clearly structure and articulate your thoughts and think laterally,’ he said.
Mazibuko said the competition gave him insight into diplomacy; a career he thinks he would really enjoy. ‘I am also passionate about entrepreneurship since I really want to contribute to the economic development of my country and reduce the country’s unacceptably high unemployment rate’, he said.