It is with deep sadness and disbelief that we received the news of the passing of two foremost servants of the people in the Ugu District. Our condolences and comforting arms reach out to the families of Her Worship Cllr Phumlile Mthiyane and Dr Michael Sibusiso Ntombela, respectively the Mayor and Municipal Manager of Ugu District.
This numbing double blow has left a bitter taste in our mouths. These compatriots leave us at a time when they were, with earnest, contributing to reshaping the lives and fortunes of the 3,6 million residents of Ugu and the three surrounding districts of OR Tambo, Alfred Nzo and Harry Gwala. So, it is no overestimation when we say that this loss will have dire consequences to the fortunes of KZN, Eastern Cape and South Africa, whose residents are hard at work with the Eastern Seaboard Development. That development will transform the rural landscape and economic fortunes of South Africa. Additionally, the Eastern Seaboard Development, which they jointly ceased implementing, will be negatively impacted on and the transformation of the shared future of the continent towards the Africa We Want, will be challenged. However, renowned author George Elliot reminds us that “our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them”.
Therefore, in tribute to them and to keep their memories of them alive we must with speed and in earnest complete the work of the Eastern Seaboard Development which includes a New Coastal African City, which is productive, innovative, and safe for women and children. As we complete this task, in their honour, we ought to pay attention, to the delivery of quality and consistent services to the 750 000 plus residents of the district, and beyond. For in their breathing life, they lived and worked to secure such quality services and development.
In their honour we must usher in a new chapter of excellence and servant leadership, which was best captured by Her Worship, Cllr Phumlile Mthiyane, in her maiden State of the District Address where she enunciated:
“Today marks the beginning of a new era where our communities should be put first, where all our efforts must be channelled towards realizing the district’s economic growth as well as creating a conducive environment for young entrepreneurs and business people alike.”
A key ingredient to achieving this is a dedicated, capable, ethical and developmental public service, of which Dr Michael Sibusiso Ntombela, epitomised. His technical astuteness, education and experience which he gathered in various municipalities and portfolios will solely be missed. More so because despite having only joined the district in October last year, we were beginning to grasp the vision he was shaping for the administration.
Although this tragedy will no doubt slow progress it should not impede the poise of the Ugu District as leading district with much potential and endowment which must support the development of the people and economy of the district.
Once again, on behalf of government and the people of South Africa, we extend our sincerest condolences to the Mthiyane and Ntombela families, friends, comrades, and colleagues as well as the entire local government fraternity and the people of the Ugu District Municipality.
Elwehlanga lungehlanga, Lalani ngoxolo nina ziqila zabantu, uqatso lwenu nilu fezile.