Monday, March 31, 2008

A Man(ager) with a Mission

- Linda Jaquet -

Dawid Rossouw, who served as Mayor of Prince Albert for 11 years until the local government elections in 2006, has been appointed the town’s Acting Municipal Manager until the end of April.

The Friend interviewed him less than two weeks after he received an unexpected telephone call at the beginning of March, telling him that the Council had decided that they needed him to fill the position. For a man, who has been in retirement for the last two years, Dawid Rossouw looked quietly confident and at home in his office.

“The Council has mandated me to drive the process of appointing the new Municipal Manager and I am confident that this will be finalised by the end of March. Hopefully, the successful applicant can start work at the beginning of May.” he said. Prince Albert has been without a Municipal Manager for over a year. Rossouw explained: “As we speak, the consultant appointed by the Council is screening all applications and will draw up a shortlist of the most suitable candidates for interviewing. Recommendations will then be made to the Council, which will make its decision.”

Rossouw is also determined to resolve a number of issues that have been lying unattended to for several months. Some require the Council’s consideration, while others are decisions and policies that have simply been gathering dust in various pigeonholes in the Municipality and need to be implemented. These include approval of the appointment of an engineer to manage infrastructural projects for the next three years.

The Council also needs to reach urgent agreement with the Kweekvallei Irrigation Board on the laying of a pipeline to replace the furrow bringing water to the town, while the question of where the Sentech communications tower should be erected also has to be resolved. Sentech technology will enable the community of Prince Albert to access more SABC TV and radio channels. Rossouw also indicated that he was tackling the surveying and selling of plots in the industrial area in a transparent manner and wants the Council to look seriously at a proposal to reduce the use of electrical power by the town.

Rossouw clearly revels in the challenges of his position. He finds the work load heavier than when he was last in government and the expectations of service delivery a lot higher. He is working long hours and has hardly seen his wife, Jean, since his appointment. However, he says that he she knows that he can make a difference and he has her full support.

What does he regard as his most important achievement during his long tenure as Mayor? Rossouw pointed to his battle to ensure that Prince Albert remained a local municipality in its own right rather than being absorbed into Beaufort West. The deciding factor in Prince Albert’s favour, he said, was that the town’s finances were sound and sustainable. Laughing, he recalled a resident shaking his hand and commenting: “Jy is ‘n bul van ‘n man!”

“We were vindicated,” he says. “Prince Albert and Laingsburg are the only two Karoo municipalities that have shown economic growth in recent years. This is vital for service delivery and also explains why we attract newcomers who love the town as much as those who have lived here all their lives. They see the possibilities and bring with them their expertise and their skills.”

Rossouw felt that while residents were justified in getting irritated with some of the Municipality’s shortcomings, the appointment of a new Municipal Manager provided both the community and the Council with the ideal opportunity to develop a good relationship. When asked what message he would like to give residents, he said “Please offer your advice to the new Manager, share your knowledge and your passion for our town. After all, it is your town.”

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