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|BRIEF PROFILE: O.N. HLAZO – MUNICIPAL MANAGER OF O.R. TAMBO DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY
Owen Ngubende Hlazo was born at Lujecweni administrative area at Nyandeni Local Municipality in the O.R. Tambo District Municipality. He studied at local schools and completed his matric at Nyanga Senior Secondary School, Engcobo. He was then appointed by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry and was sent to a technical college to do National Technical Certificate level one to level three in Water and Waste Water Treatment Practice at Umlazi Technical College which he passed with distinction. After the first general elections and during transformation, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry was absorbed by the National Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
The new Department of Water Affairs and Forestry took over the studies of Owen. This allowed him to further his studies more and more. He then went on to do National Diploma in Water Care at the then Technikon Northern Transvaal. He was then given another opportunity to study a Bachelor of Science in Water and Sanitation at the University of the North, which he completed in record time. He also completed Honours Degree in Administration at the University of Fort Hare and Masters Degree in Public Administration at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
He started to work as a semi-skilled labourer in the Department of Agriculture, then as Water Plant Operator, operating various water treatment water facilities. He was promoted to the position of Acting Control Industrial Technician in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. In 1999 he joined Local Government, working for Alfred Nzo District municipality as Operations Manager till December 2001. In 2002 he moved to O.R. Tambo District Municipality as Assistant Director in the Infrastructure Department. In 2009 he was employed by Alfred Nzo District Municipality as a Director for Infrastructure Development and Municipal Services. In February 2014 he again moved to O.R. Tambo District Municipality as a Director for Department of Water and Sanitation Services. He is now occupying a position of a Municipal Manager from March 2016.
Although he was working as a Director for Infrastructure Development in Alfred Nzo, he was also tasked with acting position of a Director Corporate Services for a period of 10 months. He also Acted as a Municipal Manager for a period exceeding three months. As EPWP Champion he managed to win Kamoso award for the Alfred Nzo DM. Alfred Nzo also received Blue and Green Drop awards during this period when he was a Director. MIG spending improved and there were no more rollovers. Auditor General’s opinion also improved from disclaimer of many years to a qualified audit opinion. In O.R. Tambo he turned around the non spending of grants. He facilitated the approval of Human Resources policies which were last adopted in 2003. He is still looking forward to transform the municipality and local government at large.
Owen Hlazo’s is Laissez-Faire and a Participative leader. He involves people before decisions are taken and also allows subordinates full freedom of decision making.
He is also persuasive and convincing. He has managed to secure a front loading fund of over R700m from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) on behalf of the Alfred Nzo District Municipality. This funding was meant to be used on twenty water and sanitation projects identified by the municipality.
Owen has visited two Asian countries. He visited China in 2010 in an attempt to access funding for the construction of four dams in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality. An amount of R1.2 Billion was approved, pending the signing of agreement between the China and South African Government. The second time he visited China was when he was invited to visit a pipe manufacturing foundry that was going to supply pipes to one of the municipality projects.
The third trip was Japan (Tokyo) on a water management training that took him two weeks. He also visited Sweden on a study on solid waste recycling.