Dlomo: strong woman and astute leader

2016-08-18 06:00
Dynamic leader, Magdalene Dlomo, held the position of Speaker at the Kouga Municipality for more than ten years.      Photo: SUPPLIED

Dynamic leader, Magdalene Dlomo, held the position of Speaker at the Kouga Municipality for more than ten years. Photo: SUPPLIED

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MAGDALENE Dlomo’s story is not exactly a rags-to-riches tale in the traditional sense.

There was never any fairy godmother waiting in the wings for her.

But that does not mean that there was no magic in her rise.

In her close to 40 years in the political arena, Dlomo has gone from unemployed to one of the highest ranking women in labour - ri-sing through the ranks of local politics to serve as the Speaker of the Kouga Municipality, the chief custodian and guardian of the legislative arm of the council.

It is a long road for someone who never even expected to finish high school.

She held this challenging, but rewarding position for over 10 years.

“Being the Speaker is no easy task. It warrants a person to be sober and to play a neutral role,” says Dlomo who dreamt of becoming a Social Worker when she was young.

“Even though I was not educated to be a Speaker, I am pro-active, a fast thinker and good in dealing with people - no matter their culture, gender, age or political beliefs.”

Over the years Dlomo attended a number of courses in leadership, business management and government law.

According to Dlomo, the most difficult part of her work was when she had to send “unruly” Councillors out of council.

“In my culture I was taught to respect older people, but I have to do my job and ensure that the residents of Kouga receive the service delivery they deserve.”

She even challenged some year-long traditions. Instead of having a moment of silence before a council meeting, she invited people from the community to deliver a short scripture reading and prayer.

“No one challenged me on this point,” she said laughingly.

Being a pastor by virtue and a child of God, Dlomo says she receives her strength and calmness from above.

Dlomo, whose launch started in 1999 when she became an ANC Councillor for the Kouga region, describes herself as someone who has been “shaped and refined” by the hardship she experienced while growing up in Patensie.

She started her school career at a very late stage at Rooivlakte Farm School, before embarking on her high school career at Hankey Public School in 1976. In 1977 she attended the highly political school, Iqhaqhiwe, in Uitenhage, which closed down after a year.

“My political involvement started from humble beginnings that year,” says Dlomo who matriculated in KwaZulu-Natal in 1985.

“After successfully completing my matric year, I returned to my home town, knowing that I would not be able to further my studies. My mother was a kitchen girl and my father a farm worker; there was no money for a luxury as tertiary education.”

Not wanting to sit idle and being eager to learn, Dlomo taught herself how to write children’s books by merely listening to an educational radio programme. She wrote a number of books for young children.

In later years, she trained to be an Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) practitioner. Armed with invaluable knowledge, Dlomo and one of her colleagues spearheaded the first Early Childhood Development Programme in the Eastern Cape - setting the stage for even bigger things to come.

Dlomo was elected as ANC Councillor for the Kouga region in 1999, and served as the ANC Chief Whip only two years later - giving her political career a helpful boost.

Apart from being a strong and influential political leader, Dlomo plays a vital role in the community. She is involved in various moral regeneration activities, prayer meetings, and is actively involved in the church and women rights.

Having stepped down as Speaker, Dlomo says she will continue to be a strong political leader; it is in her veins. “When you are defeated’ you do not run away; you face the challenge. I will continue to attend council meetings.

“I was graced with 15 good years. This is the end of one good journey. I cannot wait to embark on my next journey - who knows what the future holds?”

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