'I am a product of black tax', says Ronald Lamola as he graduates again

2018-04-17 19:29
Ronald Lamola has obtained his second law degree from the University of Pretoria. (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

Ronald Lamola has obtained his second law degree from the University of Pretoria. (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

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WATCH: ANC ‘might have to die, for it to live’ - Lamola

2017-12-13 12:29

Former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola believes the upcoming ANC elective conference, or the National Executive Committee that is elected at the conference, should recall President Jacob Zuma for the party to "survive". Watch. WATCH

ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Ronald Lamola says he hopes his second master's degree in law will inspire the #FeesMustFall movement and all African children yearning for education by showing them that despite being poor, nothing is impossible. 

Lamola has dedicated the degree to his elder sister, Constance, who he says used her salary to take him to school. 

"I am a product of black tax. My sister taking all her salary to pay for my fees motivated me to work hard during my undergraduate years," he told News24.

Lamola, 35, who hails from rural Mpumalanga, says his parents were farmworkers and could not afford to send him to school, but his mother farmed produce, including maize and peanuts "to ensure that I have something to eat at school every day". 

Lamola got his second master's in extractive law in Africa from the University of Pretoria on Tuesday.  

His research focused on corporate social investment by the mining and energy sector. His research suggests that the Department of Minerals and Energy's enforcement unit is inadequately resourced to ensure compliance with the social labour plans by companies in the sectors. 

Balancing act

"My research topic looked at the enforceability of labour plans and I found that there are no enforcement mechanisms to hold mines accountable with their social labour plans hence communities do not know who to approach for relief," he said. 

Mines have faced criticism for failing to give back to communities in areas in which they operate. 

Lamola's first master's degree was in corporate law, where he explored the regulation of property syndication schemes. His research looked at the roles of regulators in the regulation of taking deposits from the public, the conflation of the Companies Act, Banks Act and the Reserve Bank Act. 

He said splitting his focus between his studies, private practice and politics was a challenging balancing act. 

"I had to wake up at 03:00 in the morning every day and study before going to work. I also used about two hours in the evening. I used to take my books with for any political assignments and ensure that I study before I sleep and in the morning before I start the day," Lamola said. 

The former deputy president of the ANC Youth League has risen up the ANC ranks. He sits in two of its most powerful structures: the NEC and the national working committee. He was elected to the NEC at the December conference, after spending a few years in the cold as he relentlessly campaigned for the party to recall former president Jacob Zuma. 

Young people urged to take advantage of free education

The ANC has congratulated Lamola as a "living example" of what former president Nelson Mandela espoused when he said: "Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe urged young people to emulate Lamola and take advantage of the government's decision to roll out free higher education for poor students as from 2018.

"It is befitting that in the year in which the ANC has declared as '100 Years of Nelson Mandela: The Year of Renewal, Unity and Jobs', young leaders such as comrade Lamola, within our ranks and in society as a whole, have taken it upon themselves to lead from the front and ensure that the importance of education as cherished by Madiba is not lost to the youth of today," Mabe said in a statement.

Read more on:    anc  |  ronald lamola

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