Murdoch Guild elections might be a relatively low-key affair compared to how things go down at other universities (cough, UWA). I’m never sure whether that’s good (because you don’t get accosted) or bad (because I’d like to think people care about who runs our guild). If you actually attend your classes, though, you probably would have seen the posters up on campus last week – and now we have a new guild executive for next year! I decided to sit down and chat with Kombo Mashumba, our incoming president, so you guys can get to know who’ll be running the show in 2018.
Okay, Kombo – to start us off, tell me more about yourself!
K: I’m from Zimbabwe, spent my whole life there. I took a gap year and got to start my own business, open a bar. It’s very easy to start a business in Zimbabwe, so that way I’m an entrepreneur. Then I was so excited to come to Australia, and it wasn’t what I expected! It was hard integrating in a new country and making friends was also slightly different. I was the only one who came to Murdoch from my school, so everything was new.
The first year I came, all my friends were exchange students so after 6 months I had to start all over! That’s when I actually met people in my classes and all that.
I heard you’re a big fan of beef and onions. Should we expect that to feature a prominent role in Guild next year?
K: I am a big fan, I think everyone is a big fan. If you look at the value pizzas, for 5 bucks, beef and onions is the best. I think I’ll continue pushing beef and onions at Murdoch.
You must be pleased with the results of the election. What was the key to your success?
K: We had a big team and that was a good team. The people were all from different backgrounds, different societies, different schools so they each had access to their own friend group. It’s like – how can I say? Each person has access to 10 people I don’t. And our tactic was to talk to people, not just hand them a flyer and let them walk away. I guess living in the village I also know quite a few people. But I give all the props to my team.
What have you learnt from being involved with Guild over the past year?
K: I’ve been the president of the International Student Society and I guess I learnt that, ah, things don’t always go your way or to get things going your way it takes time. You’ll be like, I’m always correct, let’s do it my way, but you find out that people might have more experience or know more about certain things than you do, so I guess it’s about being humble but also pushing it because I felt like the guild wasn’t really that involved with students, and we were separate to them in a way. We weren’t on the ground being like: ‘hey come to my event,’ so people don’t know who is actually in the guild.
What’s you and your team’s plans for next year?
K: We’ve got big plans, big plans. I’m guessing you want more specific! There’s obviously saving campus culture, getting involved in educational reforms at the university. You can see them happening in the business school with blended learning and there are positives and negatives but we want to represent the positives and remove the negatives. And I’ll say a lot of students complain about affordability, we want to make things a little more within their reach. Obviously that takes time and if it’s not us it’s the guys the year after but we want to make something noticeable so students can say the guild actually did this for me.
What’s the first thing you’ll be working on when you get in there?
K: The first thing I want to so is combine the smart rider with the student card. One of my team involved with transperth bought the idea to us, and they actually do it at ECU already. So that would be the first thing because one of the first things students get is their ID card.
One less card for my wallet! What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
K: That’s a tricky one! I guess I’m scared of birds. I don’t trust birds.
G: Okay, is this all birds or some particular bird?
K: All birds, All birds are the same.
G: Did you have a traumatic bird related experience?
K: I just can’t read them, we used to have turkeys and turkey’s chase people around. So now if it’s a small bird, a big bird, I just don’t trust it. I know it sound’s crazy, but –
G: No, no. I grew up with swooping magpies, I can understand the sentiment.
K: Exactly, and now I’m hearing about these magpies, you know, they do attack. I’m afraid of birds that don’t attack, now I hear that there’s one’s that do?!
What would you say is your favourite thing about Murdoch?
K: The perfect answer would be the campus but I won’t say that. I will say Newport Tuesdays at the village.
What are your other plans for next year?
K: I’ll be studying full time alongside the guild job. It’s a lot of work but not practical, personal work. There’s a lot of meetings. What I also want to do is visit the people so they can see what I am doing. Being a full time student, that’s where students are, so I can relate. The work is there but there are so many students who also work full time too. I look up to them because that’s what I’ll be doing next year. My door will be open for their tips!
I heard there are people in Guild who are hesitant to work with you next year. What do you think about that rumour?
K: I guess I’d say, there’s no perfect leader. There’s no one where people will thing: “Oh, if this guy gets in we’re gonna all be happy.” People are always upset about it. I’m looking forward to proving them wrong. It’s gonna be interesting. That’s the good thing about this, it’s a democracy. I come from a country where it’s not a democracy at all. So people can say ‘what you’re doing is wrong’ and then I can ask myself why they are saying this, and think about it.
Some people are against me getting in because I’m an international student. A big part of the reason why I ran is because I felt like international students weren’t getting represented at a higher level. Why should it just be local students getting it? We all want a great university experience.
What would you say to the people who voted?
K: Thanks for voting, we won by a landslide. I don’t think there’s been an election where people have actually voted like that, which is amazing, so I’d like to thank them for putting their trust in me. And for being patient because the system was so slow!
And who ran against you?
K: I’d thank them for the fact that they had good policies which I will steal later! Also because they encouraged me to work harder, and gave students more options to choose from. I hope they will be willing to criticise me next year and keep me working hard.
What’s something that you would change about Murdoch if you could?
K: One thing I’d want to change is the campus culture, you know, this place I’d want it to be one where you can meet new people and network, I’d want it to just be a friendly environment. Another one would be cheaper parking. If I could make parking cheaper, that would be amazing.
If you can find a way, I’ll be eternally grateful. What are you looking forward to most about being guild president?
K: Besides the office? [laughs] I guess getting involved in the issues at the heart of students, that’s the thing I’m really wanting to do. I guess because I was an entrepreneur before I want to put forward ideas that should be great but also getting students involved with what the guild does. Like, putting a poll up for ideas. People won’t say a party sucks if they actually planned it. So that’s why I want to be the leader who gets behind everyone, and says let’s do this.
Anything else you want to say?
K: 2018 is going to be a different year. Expect big things.
You can follow the winning party “Growth for Guild” on Facebook here:
Guild President: The king Kombo Mashumba, Vice-president: Jethro Jesse Schoeman, General Secretary: Loic Munso ( and School board of B&G), International Prez: Nelson Mukuvarem MUPSA prez: Alexander Mörtzsch, MUPSA Vice-prez: Louis Williams, Indigenous Rep: Jordan Barham-Shepherd (and NUS/Senate undergraduate), Women’s Rep: the Queen Yakira Venagiam , OGC: Charlene Baniqued (NUS), Brice Gower, Vlad Bychkov (NUS), Sabreen Zia, Samuel Dib (School Board of Health Professionals), Academic Council: Sarah Inglis, Senate postgraduate: Abby Agrawal (School Board of B&G postgraduate) Other positions: Jonty Richardson for NUS , Laura Ives Hicks School Board of Arts, Jack Carruthers School Board of Engineering and IT
Interview by: Georgia Renee
Portraits of Kombo by: Harry Cunningham