In order to create a unique connection between the Newcastle community and the management of the Newcastle Municipality, The Newcastillian – Online News, to gain a better understanding of these influential role players, sat down with Samukelisiwe Yende, the Speaker of the Newcastle Municipality to learn about her role and moreover, about her journey—this is what she had to say.
Born and bred in Newcastle, Osizweni and raised by civil society is Samukelisiwe Yende the Speaker of the Newcastle Municipality. Throughout the years, she walked a long and arduous journey, before taking up the mantel of the Speaker. This includes working in various NPOs, different unions, and even being a board member on the Newcastle Community Radio.
One cannot deny the recurring calls from the public demanding to see younger people occupying senior leadership positions within Government. With this in mind, the highly talented, young Yende being an extremely energetic and enthusiastic person regarding her role in the Newcastle Municipality explains, the Speaker often acts as the ‘mother of all councillors’.
But when digging a bit deeper, what exactly does the Speaker of a municipality do precisely?
According to Yende, the job of the Speaker is to always engage with the public and lead the 34 ward councillors to ensure the needs of residents are met. ” I cannot always be with the people, but the councillors can, as they are obliged by law to be accessible to the people all the time. This is why the councillors need to report back to me to see how best we can help the public.”
In order to ensure the Municipality runs correctly, the ward councillors bring minutes of grievances from community members. Following this, the needs are measured up with the budget to see which of them can be prioritised first. It is essential to highlight the Municipality generates revenue from the rates paid by residents, without said rates being made, the basic needs of people are compromised and cannot all be met.
Yende emphasises, “It pains me when people demand things to happen immediately because we as the office are guided by the budget which is allocated at the beginning of the financial year so sometimes things have to wait to be considered the next year.”
Facing immense responsibility in her line of work, the Speaker points out that she was initially a shy person.
However, her position at the Municipality forced her to come out of her shell. “It is true that we learn every day and I must say that in the past year and few months that I’ve been in this office I have learnt a lot,” declares Yende.
In fact, her position has made such an impact on her personally, bring out her love for people, Yende is currently pursuing her degree in Social Work. This degree ties in with her pursuit to reach out to others through her profession.
But her time as Speaker of the Municipality is the not only reason she is passionate about the community. Contributing factors to her need for social justice also stems largely from her parents.
Yende describes her mother as her rock and pillar. She lost her father, who was a taxi boss, to taxi violence at a young age. Stressing, one thing that her mother has taught her is to dream and that her dreams are valid and will come true only if she believes.
Yende concludes, “Newcastle is heading towards being a city, and in order to get there we must put in all the hard work now.”
What are your thoughts on the Newcastle Municipality’s Speaker, Samukelisiwe Yende? And what message would you like to share with her?
Leave your messages in the comment section below.
Author: Lindokuhle Zwane and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer
Photo Credit: Newcastle Municipality