Monde Stratu, the Municipal Manager for Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) for a second term, was born in Molteno; a town known for having the coldest temperatures in South Africa. The town forms part of the Chris Hani District within the Eastern Cape.
The name Monde means patience. While being interviewed he said with a little chuckle, “I don’t know if I have a lot of that.”
Sharing fond memories of his upbringing and younger years, he explained that he comes from a household of eight (8) children, of which six (6) are boys and two (2) are girls. He is also the second last born.
Monde’s father was the breadwinner of the home, working as a Spoornet flagman. His duties included, amongst others, protecting contractors or anyone performing work on railroads by signalling any signs of danger to railroad users. His father was also a pastor, whose wife did odd jobs here and there but spent the majority of her life at home caring for her children and the household.
He attended Nceba Primary School and progressed to Nomonde Public School to complete grades five (5) to seven (7). He finished his secondary education at Joe Slovo High School in 1995. He was the first Stratu sibling to complete his National Senior Certificate.
This followed his career aspirations of becoming a lawyer – which he became after completing a BProc 4-year degree at the University of Pretoria. This was a proud moment for him and his family because he was the first in his family to gain a tertiary qualification. His family often struggled to make ends meet but, with the support of family members, they managed to raise funds for his registration – his aunt paid for his registration with the little salary she received as a petrol attendant in Queenstown. Things started falling into place after he was registered to study at UP and he could access government funding support. He stayed at Boekenhoudt during this time, alongside mainly Afrikaans-speaking students and the Springbok rugby player Victor Matfield.
Stratu graduated in 1999 and subsequently went to work at the Pretoria Law School to complete his articles. He then relocated to Molteno where he was appointed as a candidate attorney at Horn & Lotz Attorneys in Burgersdorp (60km from Molteno). He completed his articles by the end of March 2002. His career progressed swiftly as he also worked for Burwana and Associates in Queenstown through which he was admitted to court in the same year.
Exciting times lay ahead. He was headhunted by Inkwanca Municipality in Molteno in August 2002 to work in the office of the executive mayor and municipal manager. Although appointed as a personal assistant, his job quickly evolved into strategically managing both offices from 2002 until 2006. He was then appointed as the Executive Manager for Community Services. During this time, he was tasked to establish all the units within that department (waste management, traffic services, parks, library services, etc.). Awards poured in as this department excelled, winning the annual VUNA Awards once and the Cleanest Town Award twice in the Eastern Cape.
Stratu moved to the Western Cape in 2008 after he was appointed as the Director of Community Services at Bitou Municipality – he held this position until 2017. He carefully crafted and constituted the entire Community Services Department during his time at Bitou. His department won the Provincial and National Government Govan Mbeki Awards twice each. He was also the Acting Municipal Manager for a quarter at Bitou before being appointed as the Municipal Manager for GRDM in 2017. The same year he was also elected as the President of the Institute for Local Government Management (ILGM) in South Africa. ILGM is a centre for excellence of Local Government in the country where Section 56 and 57 municipal managers are afforded networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities.
Monde is proudly married to his wife Phumla who he met in 1993. He has a son, Tobani, and two daughters, Babalwa and Olona. He explains, “Issues close to my heart are to see my family prosper – they always come first; my kids are everything to me.” He also shared how it is important for him to see those around him progress in life, while also trying to assist where he can.
“I hate poverty with a passion, it pains me to see people struggling to make ends meet.” His biggest wish is to see poverty eradicated in his lifetime.
He explained that education, literacy and well-being of people are also some of his passions and that he wants to see shanty towns and slums eradicated.
He is opposed to any form of discrimination, be it racism, sexism or any other. “My wish is for us to live in a society where all humans are treated equally,” he said.
“Although I love my job, it is God’s plan to guide me going forward.”
Stratu currently resides in George, although he loves Plettenberg Bay the most, but will always call Molteno his home. “The Garden Route is heaven – I believe that when God visits South Africa, he surely rests in the Garden Route when he is tired,” he concluded.