PhD Journey Similar to Running the Comrades Marathon – Graduate


Dr Cliford Madondo being hooded by Mr Fanle Sibisi.

Graduate and UKZN staff member Dr Cliford Madondo says studying for a doctorate is similar to running the Comrades Marathon.

Madondo could not contain his excitement after being capped at the Law and Management StudiesGraduation ceremony in Pietermaritzburg.

With two Masters degrees from UKZN, a Bookkeeping Certificate and a Diploma in Management Accounting and Finance to his name, he said his PhD journey had its challenges and it was like running the Comrades Marathon.

‘In 2001, I walked the Comrades distance in a sponsored event. Since then, I can approximate the feeling of running the Marathon. I learned to set my own pace, believing that each step took me closer to the finishing line,’ said Madondo.

He paid tribute to his wife, Ms Palesa Leuta, who is a Lecturer: Accelerated Academic Developmental Programme, in the Discipline of Geological Science, who kept encouraging him to register. Leuta is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in GeoChemistry at UKZN.

‘I would test my ideas and thinking processes on her.  She was always available to assist me,’ said Madondo.

He thanked his supervisor Professor Maxwell Phiri for his pastoral-care approach. ‘With my supervisor, each time we met I would leave his office feeling “yes, I can do this”.’

Born in Zimbabwe, Madondo’s research was titled: An Exploratory Study of the Imperatives for Endogenous Small and Medium Entrepreneurship in Mvuma, Zimbabwe. The work focused on endogenous small and medium entrepreneurship undertakings that, in practice, combine economic reward responsiveness and entrepreneurial propensities.

‘My findings suggest that in Mvuma small and medium entrepreneurs are capitalising on alternative patterns of business processes such as self-reliance and free-riding the systems, relationship strength and management, come-forward competencies, cutting-overheads and flex management approaches,’ he explained.

Madondo said his research initiates a new analytical compass to practical questions about managing endogenously occurring small and medium entrepreneurship activities for purposes of SME policy development in Zimbabwe.

He said his journey to complete his degree came with sacrifices, especially his family time. ‘I had to be disciplined with my time management and reduction of leisure networks,’ he said.

Madondo is currently working on building his academic career and his postdoctoral studies. ‘As an academic, I am interested in research-teaching methods, educational entrepreneurship, small business development, and responsible and sustainable management practices in Africa.

‘As an entrepreneur and practitioner, I am interested and I am investing energy into African innovations, organisational development and leadership, entrepreneurship skills development, and corporate social responsibility skills development for small and medium businesses,’ said Madondo.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu