Profile: The new Board of Mhlathuze Water was appointed in December 2018 by the Minister of Water and Sanitation

Thabi Shange, the Board's new Chairperson reflects on the first six months in office

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When we were appointed by the Minister of Water and Sanitation in December 2018, we made a collective commitment to work towards ensuring that Mhlathuze Water evolves from being a regional bulk water and waste water service provider to an institution whose tentacles would span the whole province and beyond.

While this might seem like a challenging ambition, it is by no means daunting, and I am certain that, backed by an adequately qualified and skilled Board of men and women, we are set to achieve this goal.

Accordingly, we have set ourselves a grand vision in line with our four-year mandate at Mhlathuze Water of meeting and surpassing the expectations of our stakeholders, customers and the Minister of Water and Sanitation as the shareholder representative.

In a move geared towards entrenching a culture of accountability and transparency within Mhlathuze Water, as the Board we have taken the conscious decision to compile this summary report of some of the key activities that have defined our first six months in office.

I can confidently say that the past few months have seen us take some bold decisions all aimed at ensuring that Mhlathuze Water is adequately capacitated at all levels to deliver on its founding mandate of being a bulk water supplier to industries and communities alike.

For this to happen, however, we remained mindful of the need to ensure stability at the uppermost echelons of the utility, hence our decision to move with expeditious speed to bring finality to the long outstanding matter of a Chief Executive.

After a rigorous selection process, I am happy to report that we have appointed Mr Mthokozisi Pius Duze as the Chief Executive of the utility.

Mr Duze had proved his mettle sufficiently at Mhlathuze Water when he held the dual roles of Interim Chief Executive and Accounting Authority—acting in the former position from 2016 until his recent full-time appointment, and holding the latter from 2017 until the appointment of the present Board in December 2018.

Mr. Duze has, over the course of his illustrious career in government and its related entities, carved out a solid reputation for himself as a strategic leader boasting a vast understanding of organisational issues. This, coupled with a sound understanding of governance and an ability to interact with stakeholders in all spheres—be it the public or private sectors—makes him an ideal appointment to take forward the strategic aspirations of Mhlathuze Water.

Prior to being seconded to Mhlathuze Water, he was attached to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs where he was the Deputy Director General responsible for Development and Planning. Duze, in addition to a number of positions that he has occupied, also boasts strong project management capabilities, having been heavily involved in a number of strategic service delivery programmes in KwaZulu-Natal.

Among these can be counted: the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISDRP), Poverty Relief Programmes (DWS) and various change management initiatives.

Over and above his broad understanding of legislative issues and prescripts, Mr Duze holds a Master’s in Public Administration (cum laude) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is currently reading towards his PhD in Water Security Studies with Kings College (United Kingdom).

The period under review has also given us an opportunity to appear before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation; if their pronouncements on Mhlathuze Water are anything to go by, this is one utility that is poised for greater things in the foreseeable future. In this regard, we would like to thank the management and staff of Mhlathuze Water who, by the Portfolio Committee’s own admission, “have made tremendous progress to turn the organisation around.”

In taking time to acquaint ourselves with Mhlathuze Water and its operations during our induction, we were presented with evidence of an organisation hard at work and boasting world class engineering and scientific infrastructure.

Considered in conjunction with its willing workforce – whom we had an opportunity of interacting with during a staff engagement session earlier this year – this means we are ideally positioned to expand our service offering beyond the northern parts of the province to the rest of KwaZulu-Natal and indeed the rest of the country.

Looking ahead, we will continue to provide strategic support to the management of Mhlathuze and staff.

In return, we expect an organisation that is a model of openness, accountability and is results driven at all material times.

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