The eThekwini Municipality Deputy City Manager, Dr Musa Gumede will be awarded his Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) 2022 Spring Graduation Ceremony to be held at the Durban Exhibition Centre, on Thursday, 29 September 2022 at 09h00.
Dr Gumede (54) who qualified as a medical doctor in 1994 is originally from Umlazi but is currently staying in Durban North. He has been a Deputy City Manager at eThekwini Municipality for Community and Emergency Services since April 2020.
Speaking about his journey at DUT, Dr Gumede said it began in 2016 when he enrolled for his Master’s in Management Sciences. After graduating in 2017, he indicated that he put his studies on hold to focus on his busy work schedule. In 2020, Dr Gumede gained sufficient energy to return to DUT to enrol for his PhD in Health Sciences after serving as the Acting Head of Health in KwaZulu-Natal from 2017 to 2019.
His dissertation titled: Development of A Policy Framework for The Establishment of Physical Exercise Programmes in Reducing Non-Communicable Diseases in The Province of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa aimed to develop a policy framework for physical activity in adult communities in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. He managed to complete his PhD studies in two and a half years despite his busy work schedule and losing his mother who was his pillar of strength during the first few months of his studies.
“I really pushed hard and focused on making sure I did some work every evening. I also had to compromise and forgo some weekend activities like weddings and funerals so that I could make up on my studies. The position I occupy at work requires my full attention and leadership, therefore it was impossible to do any other work during office hours,” explained Dr Gumede.
Sharing the pain of losing his mother, Dr Gumede revealed that she passed away in December 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic after being ill for two weeks. He indicated that it was heart-breaking that they could not give her the send-off fit for her contribution in the society due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time.
“I thank God for her life, she was the best parent I could ever have. She was a dedicated single parent to three boys, a nurse to the whole community and a community worker. She made sure all her boys finished matric and took a trade or went to university. She loved all of us and prayed for our families. I will always cherish her teachings and knowing that she was proud of my achievements. Her death gave me strength to push more for her and I’m glad I have made it,” said Dr Gumede.
Unpacking the reasoning behind his choice of study, Dr Gumede said: “When I worked in the Health sector, we promoted physical exercise as an intervention to prevent chronic diseases like heart diseases and obesity, I then started to notice that there were no guidelines to assist participants who were involved in physical exercise programmes. Some of the trainers also had no training in what they were offering to participants and a need for a framework for physical exercise programmes was then identified as a need.”
The COVID-19 lockdown period made it difficult for him to collect data as he had to visit gyms to observe participants and conduct questionnaires as well as interviews. He had challenges accessing people, leading to him changing some of the sites he needed to visit like the old age home, which were inaccessible during this period. Meanwhile, connectivity issues became a challenge when conducting virtual interviews.
During his studies, Dr Gumede stated that he also managed to complete the Municipal Finance Management Programme which took him about a year to complete.
“It was not easy, but I usually set a target in my head for everything I do and try to achieve it even if it is difficult, e.g. if I have given myself three days on a chapter it will mean that after work I would have to work on it even if it meant going to bed at 4am and waking up two hours later to prepare for work. When you have family, student life is not easy, you must balance home life with expectations of a student. This is the biggest challenge I faced as a student. When you want to focus on research work, you must consider the expectations at home,” he added.
His future plans include starting a part-time academic life after his contract at eThekwini Municipality comes to an end. He advised the current students to use all available opportunities to further their studies while still young and not faced with complex family responsibilities.
Pictured: EThekwini Municipality Deputy City Manager, Dr Musa Gumede.