Kudos to three Amathola ladies who get the water flowing

Where would Gamtoos Irrigation Board be without its incredible staff? Today we feature three amazing ladies whose work is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding – and whose hard work keeps our dams full and our farmers happy!

Meet Khunjulwa Nkunkuma, Ndilisa Loyilani and Nomahlubi Mrubata. This dedicated trio manages Working for Water projects from Fort Beaufort to East London, taking in the Rooikrans, Kubusie, Keiskamma, Hogsback, Katberg and Post Retief catchment areas. They manage teams who do the vital work of clearing invasive plants so that much-needed water can flow into the region’s dams.

All three were born in humble circumstances in the rural Eastern Cape, attending local schools and lacking the means to study after school. However, they had determination in bucket loads. Their can-do attitudes have won them positions of respect and authority in GIB.

Khunjulwa Nkunkuma

Khunjulwa was born in Sutterheim. After school, she worked as a shop teller until she had enough money to further her education. Then she poured what she had into studies, emerging from MSC College with a Business Administration and General Secretarial Diploma. Armed with this qualification, she found a job with the Department of Water Affairs, where her career trajectory was established. The Department sent her to Saasveld for part-time training in Forest Management; using that qualification as a stepping stone, she then enrolled in Project Management at Intech.

After that it was plain sailing.  From shop teller to admin assistant to project manager – Khunjulwa had found her niche.

“I worked as a project manager for the Independent Development Trust but left them in 2014, when their contract with the Department of Water Affairs ended. The following year, I became a project manager at GIB.”

In this role, she prioritises areas highly infested with invasive alien plants.

“I determine how each alien type can be treated. I organise the teams to do the clearing and run monthly health and safety meetings with them. I also establish and maintain relations with community leaders by meeting with them regularly.”

Khunjulwa has a life-long earning attitude. “I enjoy information sharing, finding different ways of doing things. We share challenges and ways of attending to them. In the process, we gain experience. Learning new things and having different views and opinions is refreshing.”

Ndilisa Loyilani

Ndilisa was born in King William’s Town. After matriculating, she found contract work in the revenue section of the Department of Health in Queenstown, working there for five years. But she was eager for something better.

“In 2011, GIB was newly established in the area and looking for an administrator with strong capabilities. I saw an opportunity, believing I possessed the experience, knowledge and skills. I applied for the position and got the job!

“My strong admin qualities led to my promotion to a quality control position, where I was able to show my talents in team management.”

Talent and hard work won the day – someone at GIB noticed her abilities and pretty soon she was appointed as project manager in the Amathola region.

Like Khunjulwa, she ensures that alien-clearing teams are equipped for the job, have the necessary training and safety knowledge, and are posted to the correct areas, depending on needs.

“I also promote good working relations between stakeholders and landowners, reporting on the progress and quality of the project.”

Ndilisa loves her job. “Mostly, I love learning new things every day. We all share our knowledge and skills. The different personalities add great value. I have learnt to trust more as I rely on the skills and competencies of others to get work done.”

Nomahlubi Mrubata

Nomahlubi was born in Keiskammahoek. After taking a number of short courses at Damelin and a Forestry Management course at Saasveld, she moved from admin positions to that of project manager at GIB. She sums up the value of the work that she and her two colleagues do:

“As project managers, Khunjulwa, Ndilisa and I ensure that invasive plants are cleared so that water can flow to the community dams. In the process, our projects provide employment for members of the community.

“Budgets need to be determined and targets must be met. But the most important thing is making a difference in the lives of the communities in Amathola.”

Andrew Knipe, Area Manager of East GIB, commends the three for their hard work.

“The area covered by the three ladies and the teams they oversee is mountainous, which makes the work difficult.

“They are very hardworking. Each project manager oversees between 12 and 14 contractors and every block they oversee has to be walked for monthly inspections.

“Plus, of course, the usual administrative and management matters that they take care of daily.”

A passion for learning, hard work and diplomacy – these are the qualities that always win respect. Khunjulwa, Ndilisa and Nomahlubi have these in abundance, and are making a positive difference to their families, their team members and the entire farming community of Amathola.

Addendum: Gamtoos Irrigation Board is currently waiting for the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, to conclude the tender process which might lead to the implementation of Gamtoos Irrigation Board as an implementation agent for the Department and therefore conclude the contract. While the tender application is in progress, Khunjulwa, Ndilisa and Nomahlubi’s work is temporarily on hold. We are confident it will not be for long, and look forward to welcoming our valuable team members back as soon as possible!