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New City Manager has deep roots in the Community

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New City Manager has deep roots in the Community

by Nurene Jassiem
30 Jun 2006
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Rondebosch East resident Achmat Ebrahim was appointed the new City Manager for the City of Cape Town last week. People's Post spent some time with him to find out what makes him tick.

Barely a week after his official promotion, new City Manager Achmat Ebrahim was already swamped with meetings and interviews, but this did not dampen his friendly nature.

A smiling apology as he rushed into his office, which he has sat in for the past six years in various positions, (and has been unable to vacate as yet, due to time constraints) set the tone for the interview.

His appointment last week to the highest administrative position in the City of Cape Town was well received, despite being preceded by a controversial legal to-and-fro between former City Manager Dr Wallace Mgoqi and the DA.

"I was overwhelmed by the fact that everyone applauded me when the announcement was made in council," Ebrahim said.

"To me this tells the story that I know my place as an official and not a politician," he added.

Although his career with the city has reached this dizzying new height, Ebrahim has his feet firmly set on the ground. "I'm not the type of person who wants status. I'm still 'Achmat' and everyone from the cleaner to the senior staff call me Achmat because that's who I am," Ebrahim said with a smile.

A family man with his roots deeply entrenched in Cape Town soil, Ebrahim grew up in Bo-Kaap and matriculated from Harold Cressy High School.

As the youngest son of the late Imam Abbas Riepie, religion also plays a big role in Ebrahim's life. He, his wife Shireen, and their children Zahier (23), Aeysha (18), Tauhier (16) and Tasneem (14) completed the holy pilgrimage to Mecca at the end of last year.

"It was the most thrilling and humbling experience ever. I think it is important to find a balance in your life and I've always played pivotal roles in my family, such as giving the children's names (christening)," Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim has also extended this balance into the social sphere. He was one of the founder members of the Islamic Foundation for Education and Culture, which he saw as a way of "ploughing back into the community".

Ebrahim added that although he no longer has the time to play a very active role in the Foundation, he is still "very much in touch with its members".

On a professional level, his array of previous positions include that of a part-time lecturer at Peninsula Technikon. With a passion for sharing knowledge, Ebrahim said he loved lecturing, because he could "share practical experience" with his students, some of whom later became his colleagues. Ebrahim said the announcement of his new position has given him "a sense of accomplishment". "I want to stay close to the ground in this job and know that what I am doing is making a difference to the lives of people.

"Everything in my job is aimed at improving the general welfare of the people in the city," he added.

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