Dean O’Neill took over the reins as municipal manager of the Overstrand Municipality from Coenie Groenewald on 1 November.
A self-confessed lifelong learner, O’Neill originally set out to pursue a career in civil engineering, but after having served in technical capacities – first at Vredendal and then Matzikama – he changed tack and began pursuing a career in public administration in earnest.
Today, he holds a master’s degree in public administration and is an Accredited Municipal Manager – a distinction very few people in the country can boast with. O’Neill has been serving as Cape Agulhas’s municipal manager since 2013 and regards the fact that he and his team managed to obtain unqualified audit reports consecutively for the past five years as a major accomplishment.
“Rapid changes in the Western Cape’s political landscape necessitate resilience and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment,” O’Neill said. “I regard teamwork as the key and firmly believe that every individual’s input, no matter how insignificant it may sound, is crucial to attaining a common goal.”
It was with a heavy heart that the Bredasdorp community bid the O’Neill family farewell since they took such a lively interest in local affairs, served on school governing bodies and played an active part in their local parish.
Coenie Groenewald delivered his final speech amidst loud applause and a standing ovation during his last Council meeting on Wednesday 28 October.
He thanked everyone for their support over the years and said it felt like yesterday when he joined the Overstrand Municipality in 2003. “It feels like only this morning that I was appointed as municipal manager in 2012.
“But as it is written in Ecclesiastes 3: ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven’ and so, because life is a journey and not a destination, it is now time for my wife and I to depart on our journey of retirement,” he said.
He added that he thoroughly enjoyed working for the Overstrand Municipality. “This is one of the best municipalities in the country and it is praised from various quarters for, amongst others, the cleanliness of our area and for the high standard of services we render. It is an honour for me to have been associated with a municipality which is in the company of only six other municipalities in the country that could maintain their clean audit status for five consecutive years and more – in the case of Overstrand, for seven consecutive years – and we are holding thumbs for the 2019/20 audit which is soon to commence in all earnest.”
Groenewald concluded by saying: “It is never easy to say goodbye to people you care about – thus, I would rather stick to what Mahatma Gandhi once said: ‘There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever I go, you will always be in my heart’.”
The Village NEWS wishes Coenie Groenewald a happy and long retirement and welcomes Dean O’Neill to our shores.