Rhodes University will fund a Programme Manager to drive an ambitious turnaround plan for Makhanda. This follows a groundbreaking imbizo earlier this year, where representatives of local institutions and organisations resolved to join forces in fixing the city.
At a follow-up meeting this month, Rhodes University Vice Chancellor Dr Siizwe Mabizela said, “On 30 July, we gathered at Rhodes University as important role players in Makhanda, to explore the role that we, as significant members of our civil society, might play in reimagining the future of our city and its residents. If we do not take charge of our destiny, we will be the biggest losers. Watching from the sidelines as our city sinks deeper and deeper into an abyss is not an option. Allowing helplessness and despair to take hold of us is not an option either.”
Rhodes University, he said, was fully committed to the success of this initiative.
“We are also aware that all of us have our own responsibilities. I have therefore taken it upon myself to approach our Council for funding to provide someone who is capable and competent to manage this initiative. We, as Rhodes University, will ensure that we provide this resource.”
Stakeholders, including Rhodes University, the Grahamstown Business Forum (GBF), Kagiso Trust and Eastcape Midlands College, resolved at the 16 September meeting to set up a Programme Management Office to lead the implementation of the Makhanda Circle of Unity plan.
The Office will comprise a Programme Manager and two interns. Mabizela will approach the University Council for special funding for the post. The GBF committed to assist with complimentary fundraising and Kagiso Trust will provide overall support. The Eastcape Midlands College will provide the interns.
Chairperson of the Grahamstown Business Forum, Richard Gaybba, said, “From business’s side, we will see what we can do to assist with the fundraising of this Programme Manager,” he said.
Paul Smith from Kagiso Trust, a self-funded NGO that is helping Makana Municipality with several community-building initiatives, said, “We will be here for a number of years and we are happy to contribute to capacitating and putting people in place to do some of the work required. We are not trying to be a silver bullet, but we are an interested party.”
Director for Communication and Advancement at Rhodes University, Luzuko Jacobs, said the plan was to “push hard for an inclusive and collaborative civic action for good. We hope to inspire enough confidence and seek to attract both public and private sector partners to experiment with a unique model to revive local economies in our country and to restore hope.”
The second Makhanda Stakeholder Imbizo took place at Nombulelo Senior Secondary School on Monday 16 September 2019.
Brief presentations at the session included an assurance by the Chairperson of the National Arts Festival, Ayanda Mjekula, to keep the Festival in Makhanda.
“Initiatives like this only serve to cement our faith in this unique city,” he said.
Makana Municipality Executive Mayor, Mzukisi Mpahlwa shared several key strategic plans for the city, including the Central Business District Regeneration Business Plan, Makana Sanitation Improvement Plan and the Makhanda Airport Concept. Mpahlwa said the plans had been professionally researched and feasibility studies had been completed.
The work streams (“clusters”)
Process: To develop a framework for the Forum, including the basis for consensus building, to formalise structures and provide for a governance system;
Accountability: Monitoring and reporting for citizenship campaigns and to improve citizens’ monitoring and oversight of the municipality;
Local Economic Development: To enable an effective marketplace for ideas, products and services and find the best options for job creation;
Community Engagement and Marketing: To create and sustain platforms for messaging, promotion of cohesion, Makhanda brand development and community involvement;
Safety and Security: Focuses on bylaws, prevention and education;
The Big City Project: To strengthen Makhanda as the heartland for education, creativity and tourism.
Operations management: This work stream will be consolidated within the other six clusters.
To guide collaborative effort, the Stakeholders’ Forum adopted the following values:
* To promote mutual recognition and mutual respect among role players.
* To be civic-driven and not politically aligned
* To aim for diversity and inclusivity
* To seek complementarity and partnerships and not duplicate existing efforts and initiatives
* To be action driven and results oriented
* To work for evidence-based solutions
* Accountability and ownership of the role of the Forum
A deadline of 30 September 2019 was set for the submission of all operational plans.