Lukhanji is composed of Queenstown, the townships of Mlungisi, Ezibeleni and Ilinge, plus surrounding rural areas of Whitlesea, Sada, Dongwe and Hewu and contains over 200,000 people.
Nozibele Makanda, a resident of Queenstown, South Africa was born in Mthatha, but visited her aunt who lives in Queenstown at Ezibeleni during holidays. She explains, “I liked Queenstown so much that when I qualified as a teacher I decided to work there and live with my Aunt. However, the first offer I got was in Dordrecht, a small town 75 km outside Queenstown. Four years later, after I met my husband and we got married, I got a teaching post in Queenstown, Mlungisi Township. I have been here ever since. I love it here and have made it my home and a place where we are raising our children and serving the community.”
Mayor Makanda was originally the Council Speaker/Chairperson of the Chris Hani District Municipality, a position that exposed her to local government and an understanding of its operations. Because of the challenges in the Lukhanji Municipality, the African National Congress (ANC), chose Makanda to replace the sitting Mayor. “I accepted because ANC decides on where one is deployed and I had put myself at its disposal when I agreed to be in the party’s list of councillors for the 2011 Local Government Elections,” she explains, “The system used in South Africa is that of political party campaigns, where party structures agree on who should be in their lists. The lists for local councils are then distributed proportionally amongst winning parties in that council. The ruling party has a deployment committee that decides on who becomes Mayor. The ANC therefore decided that I become the Executive Mayor, and I accepted.”
Mayor Makanda holds a very responsible position, but an equally important responsibility is her family, “I have a wonderful family, my husband, Luvuyo and our 6 children, Luthando, Sipho, Yamkela, twins, Qhayiya and Qhayisa and Kuhle. They fully support me and understand the responsibilities that come with it. They accepted the news with mixed feelings because of the challenges that are in the municipality - worried for me, but also excited. I am grateful for their support and understanding.”
She admits that it is very difficult, as being mayor is often a 24/7 job. To balance her work and her home life she tries to involve her family in some aspects of her job. “I make time to be with them and we arrange that whenever I am working from home, I drive the kids to school. We make time to go out together and go to church together. We keep in touch through social media as well. My husband is my main pillar of support, as he always makes up for my absences at home.”
When asked if being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints affects her position as Mayor, she readily explains, “The teachings of the Church, in particular the gospel principles, have helped prepare me to first, understand the position is that of a servant and must be discharged with humility, honesty and integrity; secondly, the principle of loving those you serve has taught me to accept people and be patient with them. Everyday teachings from the church manuals and conference addresses help sustain me and provide answers to some of the challenges I face. Prayer and scripture study make it possible to have courage to face daily challenges.”
The Lukhanji Municipality, is at the heart of the Chris Hani District municipality and has been identified as the economic hub of the district in the district developmental agenda. As a result Mayor Makanda has a challenging job, but she sees it as an opportunity.
Her goals are:
- To work with the mayoral committee, the administration and council to establish good governance as a culture, where compliance with legislation is the way of doing business.
- To listen to the views of the people and work with them by creating platforms of engagement with all stakeholders.
- To Create an enabling environment for development by strengthening performance in all our key performance areas, to achieve our strategic objectives as set out in our Integrated Development Plan.
- To facilitate Intergovernmental relations and cooperation with the District Municipality and the Provincial and national to get the support we need for the development of our municipality and to meet the basic needs of the people in all our communities.
- To restore the confidence of the people in the performance of the municipality and its ability to intervene in the challenges they face and in clean governance through an improved audit outcome.
- To Capitalize on our competitive advantages brought about by our strategic location along major transport routes and being centre of government operations housing key government district offices.
The mayor sees good things happening to her municipality, “Five years from now, I see a flourishing economic hub that offers development opportunities to all the people of Lukhanji and beyond. From the words of King Benjamin in Mosiah 2:17, ‘….when you are in the service of your fellow human beings, you are only in the service of your God.’ All the work we do in our communities should be done diligently, motivated by the desire to serve and please our Heavenly Father, and we will be doing as the Saviour has taught us in Matthew 25:40, ‘In as much as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ We should be happy to serve our communities, as we are not only public representatives but also on the errand of the Lord.”