GEORGE NEWS - DA Councillor Barnie Groenewald, the new Speaker of the district municipality, reacts equally well to his Sesotho name, Montlenyane (Montle for short), which means "die mooi enetjie".
Groenewald got this name from a resident of Khutsong in Carletonville, back in 1979 when he served on the Western Transvaal Development Council.
Groenewald explained that when the community got to know him, they said he is not "le boeru" (like the whites they know), because he has a beautiful heart.
They promptly gave him his Sesotho nickname, which he cherishes to this day.
Groenewald was visibly moved after his election as the Speaker of the Garden Route District Municipality at a council meeting last Thursday.
Watch a video below.
He has been acting in the position for the past month, and has acted as Speaker for nearly six months prior to the appointment of Eleanore Bouw-Spies. The position once again became vacant when Bouw-Spies was sent to serve in parliament after the elections in May.
In an unusual turn of events, both the ruling DA party and the opposition, of which the ANC takes the majority of seats, have placed their trust in Groenewald as their nominee.
Mayor Memory Booysen commented that it is very unusual for both sides of the house to agree on the nomination of a Speaker.
In his first address to Council as Speaker, Groenewald said that he is truly humbled.
''I would like to thank you for the opportunity. I will serve you diligently and stay humble,'' he said.
''My objective is to make you all happy councillors and assist you where I can."
He quoted the four-way test of Rotary International - "In everything that you think, say or do, ask yourself: is this the truth, is it fair to all, is it beneficial to all and will it build better friendships.''
Groenewald has served in the Potchefstroom Town Council and Tlokwe City Council for almost 27 years. He is currently a facilitator of short courses in local government law, governance and administration at the NMU George Campus. Among the many chairs that he fills, Groenewald is a DA ward councillor and the DA Chief Whip of the Mossel Bay Council.
In his private time, Groenewald enjoys writing poetry and rhymes. He wrote Visvingerdrome and recited it during the opening of the Herbertsdale Library in September 2017.
Watch a video below.
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