New Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo is thrilled to take the organisation forward, but he admits there are several challenges to be met.
Ngcobo was appointed to the position during the Annual General Meeting of the 100-year-old organisation, which was held on Wednesday night.
He takes over from former chairperson Cheryl Winn, who has been in the hot seat for the past four years.
“You know when I was talking to my fellow board members, I said it’s like a baptism of fire because there’s a lot that we have to deal with, especially preparing for next year’s race,” Ngcobo told The Witness. “But we are up to the task. We have to serve the organisation and make sure that it survives for another 100 years.
“The only way to do that is to put all the systems in place and obviously in how we preserve the association and act in a prudent manner, just like how our predecessors have done. We have managed to survive for two years without a race and thanks to the prudence of our predecessors.”
Before his appointment to the CMA’s top job, Ngcobo (44) was the vice-chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg organisation.
Les Burnard is the new vice-chairperson.
Pietermaritzburg’s Ngcobo begins his tenure at a very tough time as the association, which is responsible for staging the Comrades Marathon, is going through restructuring as their income streams have almost dried up.
Ngcobo said he would not like to speak about the matter in the media until it is finalised due to its sensitivity. “The immediate thing on my plate is next year’s race. We have to ensure that we have a race physically between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. And make it a success under the conditions that we currently live under,” he said.
Next year’s race will be held on Sunday, August 28.
“We know that there’s Covid-19 and restrictions. About an hour ago [yesterday] the minister of Transport announced another variant on our shores. We have all those factors that we need to put into account when we plan for next year,” said Ngcobo. “Obviously, we will involve all the authorities to ensure that the safety of our runners is paramount.
“As I said, for it to be a success we will need to put in place systems that will ensure we will have a race next year and obviously everything that has to do with good corporate governance is very much part of my plans.
“Fortunately, I took over from a chairperson who expected good corporate governance as part of our DNA.”
Apart from leading CMA, Ngcobo works for the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature as a senior manager responsible for hindsight and language services. He holds a Master of Art from the University of KZN and an MBA from Mancosa.
Meanwhile, a number of Comrades gold medallists will be testing their famous legs in the Cape Town Ultra-trail (UTCT) competition on Saturday.
The group includes Ann Ashworth, Bongmusa Mthembu and Prodigal Khumalo, for a 100-km challenge over Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula.
Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce is going to officially open the race and will get to meet the person who broke his long-standing 50-mile record in 2019 — Jim Walmsley from America — for the first time, according to the UTCT organisers.
Mqondisi Ngcobo (chairperson)
Les Burnard (vice-chairperson)