Newly appointed Acting Clarens Unit Manager – An open door to the Clarens Municipality!

Father of 3, born and bred in Clarens, Abie Mofokeng is approachable and friendly. Follow the local WhatsApp community groups and his name will be immediately recognizable, normally attached to the hashtag #leadingfromthefront. This is something he does extremely well, while coordinating a staff of 64, looking after Community Services, Water and Infrastructure.

He comes from the village itself, and he sees it as a concept, to be explored and shared with visitors from all over South Africa and the rest of the world

When you get to Bloemfontein you should get the idea that there is a Clarens in the Free State. When you get to N3 you should be able to understand that there is a Clarens. When you get to OR Tambo, you know, there is a Clarens…

Having spent 6 years as the Supervisor for Community Service, running the public library, he has a sense of the culture and environment of the area. His love of nature shines through when he talks about trees and planting initiatives

Acting Clarens Unit Manager in his office

When you talk about tree planting, that is a thing which is close to my heart. I love the trees, I love the nature. That’s why I applied for the position of supervisor in Community Service, because I like the nature. Here we have a plan to plant around a 150 trees a year, on a continual basis, every year…

The tree planting initiative will be rolled out in the schools as well, with rangers from the CVC helping with environmental education and awareness for young learners.

Challenges in Clarens

Clarens Square

Over the last few months a number of horses have started appearing around the Square, with rides being offered to visitors. This has become a bone of contention with locals and businesses, due to the uncontrolled nature of the people running these businesses, the waste on the streets, and the potential for disaster always being in the back of the mind.

Abie has identified the one business which has tried to comply with local requirements, and will be relocating the horse rides to a piece of municipal land next to Lake Clarens. He has also undertaken to help the owner become business registered, set up indemnity forms, and take on public liability insurance to comply with local requirements.

This approach also underpins his attitude to the rash of car guards and washers which has sprung up over the holiday season. There are 4 appointments for registered car washers, and 6 for car guards. He hopes to work with the community of business owners to formalize and control the activities, with help from relevant authorities such as the SAPS and Traffic Department.

Water

In light of the present drought and lack of maintenance of existing water pipes, Clarens has been facing a shortage.

For the water issue we have a plan. From the tunnel from Lesotho we are planning to upgrade the pump station… so we can pump more water directly to the Townlands Dam

By upgrading the side valve pump, Abie hopes that it will become a complete solution for the issues facing the village. That and a bit of beautiful summer rain would surely help all round!

He goes on to explain about the steady upgrading of the old asbestos pipes in Clarens and Kgubetswana, and how there is a steady repair team, fixing not just the pipes that burst, but trying to go through them street by street to do a complete modernisation of the entire system.

Asked about funding he explained that his role is in connecting with the regional Dihlabeng municipality, and that he has a meeting with them later in January 2019 to discuss funds for the complete renewal of our pipe system.

Events on the Square

For a few years people have felt that doing anything on the Square involves miles of red-tape and a bureaucratic nightmare. Abie re-assured me that if someone wants to hold and event that (subject to alcohol related licencing) he will be very happy to receive and apply to the regional office for permissions, and does not foresee any problems with using it for community events. (I see a potjiekos festival on the horizon…)

Museum – Potential Info Office site

Abie also mentioned that the Municipality is lacking a Tourism Officer, who would liase with the Tourism Forum and National Tourism bodies, so we look forward to the appointment of someone dedicated to promoting the area.

One way this would be facilitated would by revamping the Museum, bringing it up to date, making it represent the town, and serve as an Info Office. We look forward to seeing this come into effect, as it can only benefit the town to have an official Info Center.

Community Collaboration

He has also committed to sending a copy of his monthly report to Clarens News to be able to keep locals in the loop, and always work towards finding common solutions for common problems.

Ultimately Clarens is lucky to have some one like Abie to stand up for a town which is his, where his kids go to school, and where he can inspire the entire community. Clarens News congratulates him on his new position, and celebrates the shining example of a local boy growing up to be in charge of taking his town to new heights.