By JULIAN JACOBS
The Makhanda Circle of Unity (MCoU), an apolitical, multi-stakeholder civil society coalition, welcomes Mr. Sisesakhe Ntlabezo, as the newly appointed Programme Manager to drive a novel collaborative pact for the advancement of the city’s socio-economic interest.
Born in Komani, formerly known as Queenstown, Mr Ntlabezo studied at Rhodes University, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts with Honours degree in Industrial and Economic Sociology. After studying, he worked briefly in Makhanda before joining Equal Education (EE) in March 2017.
In December 2017, he was promoted to the position of Chief of Staff at EE, where he provided strategic support to the elected leadership of the social movement. His time at EE culminated with him being co-opted as a full member of the National Council, the movement’s highest governance structure, in December 2020.
“We are delighted with the appointment of someone with the commitment and energy of Mr Ntlabezo. He is deeply invested in the Eastern Cape and is familiar with our city – its challenges and opportunities. We have full confidence in his ability to navigate this space and help us bring the inclusive change that our civil society coalition is committed to achieve”, said the interim MCoU-chairperson, Prof Owen Skae.
Prof Skae who also heads the Rhodes University Business School co-chairs the MCoU with The Revd Canon Dr. Vicentia Kgabe, Rector of the College of Transfiguration-NPC in Makhanda (Grahamstown)
Mr Ntlabezo took up his appointment in January 2021. His responsibilities include coordinating and promoting the work of the coalition that was launched at Rhodes University in 2019.
Speaking about his task, Mr Ntlabezo, popularly known as Sakhe, said he was looking forward to making a contribution to the restoration of Makhanda’s pride as a thriving University town and an educational and cultural jewel in the Province.
“I am looking forward to co-creating a new way, a diverse, collaborative and sustainable social model united behind a single vision for the good of all in our little city.
Our approach centres around constructive engagement between community structures and bodies that have long been in existence but, by no fault of their own, have ended up working in limiting silos.
So, one of the key strategic focuses that the MCoU is doing, is to foster cooperation across all social fault-lines, facilitate inclusivity as much as possible and to offer measurable support to social initiatives and hence removing those silos.” Mr Ntlabezo says.
Sakhe is tasked with supporting and driving the implementation of the forum’s ambitious objectives alongside and through various clusters that have been established.
“I am at a point where I now feel like I have picked up on threads and strands that have been developed by hard-working citizens who have held the space since the inception of the idea and initiative of the MCoU. Hopefully, we can now begin to tie them together and move forward with greater urgency” he said.
He praised the hard work of the interim MCoU Cluster Coordinators and thanked them for their efforts despite their own personal and professional challenges. Since his appointment, he has sought to bring on board other role-players within Makhanda who have a deep connection to what happens in this city.
“I am looking forward to bringing my experience into this role. It is about getting people together to collectively strategise and co-create solutions,” Sakhe said.