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17 July 2020 Media Statement: IDP Manager for Garden Route District Municipality passes away

Media Statement: IDP Manager for Garden Route District Municipality passes away

For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

He will be remembered as a ‘humble, kind, calm and collected’ colleague

“It is with shock and broken hearts that we learned of the passing of one of our own employees yesterday to COVID-19,” said Alderman Booysen, Executive Mayor for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). Integrated Development Planning (IDP) Manager, Mr Mzukisi Cekiso is no longer with the GRDM. “Our prayers go out to his wife, child, family and friends – the District will never be the same again,” said Alderman Booysen. “The sun went down during the day.”

‘Mzu’, as he was fondly referred to by everyone, brought a breath of fresh air to the institution with his appointment on 1 February 2018. Part and parcel of his responsibilities were to manage and coordinate the IDP, Public Participation and Intergovernmental Relations functions for the district.

During a Zoom meeting today, 17 July 2020, with employees at GRDM, Alderman Booysen described Mzu as a man who often “presented his strong side to others”, who was also in contrast “a light-hearted person with a lot of ambitions”. Mayor Booysen said when Mzu bought a new vehicle he requested permission from Mzu to take it for a drive. Mzu jokingly responded: “my vehicle starts with only my own fingerprint”. Employees all have fond and happy memories of their engagements with Mzu.

Sadly, Alderman Booysen recalled one of the last messages Mzu sent to his wife Elethu in which he stated that “this COVID-19 nonsense is painful”. A scary and mind-opening fact about the seriousness of the virus.

GRDM Municipal Manager Mr Monde Stratu encouraged all Councillors and employees to be vigilant during this period because the COVID-19 Coronavirus is “vicious and knows no boundaries”. He also pleaded to employees, especially men, not to think that by avoiding to admit oneself to the hospital a person would be perceived as “brave at hearted”. He said: “You should seek medical assistance should the need arise”.

Mr Lusanda Menze, GRDM Executive Manager for Planning and Economic Development when asked to share his thoughts about Mzu, said: “A great son of the soil! Mzu’s passing came as a shock to many of us. I was in daily contact with him and he never showed any signs of apprehension. Having known him for close to 10 years, the Department is incomplete without him. I am really saddened by the loss of this kind, caring and gentle person who had an affable demeanour. He had the equanimity of dealing with complex issues and was [also] self-driven”.

Ms Mercy James, GRDM IDP Officer, was his right hand at work. She describes her time reporting to him by saying, “I was blessed to work with Mzu from 1 March 2018. Since the onset of my duties, he made it clear that the IDP unit was not about him, but that we needed to work as a team. Over time Mzu got to know not only my strengths, the areas of my skill set where I were not that strong.  He was determined to see me develop my strengths, rather than revealing my weaknesses. A true leader, who walked in front but close enough to his supporting team. I experienced him as humble, kind, calm and collected person, and he could easily handle my ‘differently tempered’ personality. I’m deeply saddened by his passing, but grateful that I had the privilege of working with a noble man like him.”

Mzu was involved in many government structures, well known to those working inside and outside the organisation, including premiers, mayors, municipal managers, IDP managers and the like. His sudden passing has left a void in the municipality. His colleagues and friends were not able to say goodbye before he left because everything happened so fast.

The municipality is in contact with Mzu’s family to provide the necessary assistance and support during this difficult period.  “This was too sudden, especially for those who were close to him…there are no words to explain the grief that all of us are observing even from afar,” Mr Stratu concluded.

May his soul rest in peace.