PMB-born Zondo part of Young African Leaders Initiative

2016-04-20 11:52
U.S.-bound Mondli Zondo, who has been selected for the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship programme.

U.S.-bound Mondli Zondo, who has been selected for the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship programme. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - U.S.-bound Mondli Zondo reckons his spell in the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme will translate into a positive contribution to his country when he comes back.

The Pietermaritzburg-born Zondo will be jetting off to Virginia Commonwealth University in June to take part in the flagship programme of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.

For six weeks, Zondo will receive academic training at the university, before attending a summit to be hosted by Obama.

Speaking of the application process, Zondo said he had been told by the U.S. embassy in Pretoria when he went to do his interview, that the embassy had received over 3 000 applications in South Africa alone.

Zondo, who works as a director of parliamentary research for the NFP in the provincial legislature, credited the university he had been placed at as a leading urban research institution.

“I hope that this will enhance my research and policy development skills and that it will improve what I can offer both the NFP and South Africa politically.

“I am proud of myself as a young person in a position of influence who is actively involved in shaping the direction of the party in a way that can change people’s lives for the better.

“I joined the NFP because I believe it is a grass-roots political organisation, rooted in knocking down barriers and creating opportunities for the disadvantaged and marginalised,” he said.

Zondo was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1989 and was raised in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape when his family relocated when he was 10 months old, because of the political violence at the time.

He was raised by his late great-grandmother and great aunt, who eventually became his foster parent as his mother died when he was 13 years old.

Having registered to study law at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2008, his childhood dream, Zondo’s excitement was short-lived by the death of his foster mother in July and that of his great-grandmother in October, the same year.

“I count myself lucky that I had the support of other family members. There were people who were worse off than me,” he said.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

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