ZDDT’s Field Correspondent, Mandla Tshuma (MT) visited Emganwini Community Garden and briefly spoke to the garden’s interim secretary, Simangele Ndebele (SN), about the project. Below is their conversation.
MT: As we begin our conversation here at Emganwini, I would request that you introduce yourself.
SN: I am Simangele Ndebele.
MT: What vegetables have you grown in your section of this garden?
SN: We have green vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, lattice and beans.
MT: Have you started to sell, or this is just for your own consumption?
SN: We doing both selling and consumption.
MT: Roughly, how many members are in this garden?
SN: There are 117 people.
MT: Wow! That is great. What is the leadership structure like, seeing there are many people in your garden?
SN: There are four leaders here. We have Dube, who is our chairperson; we have Mtabeni, the vice chairperson; there is the treasurer, Mrs Maziwa, and I am the secretary.
MT: Do you have a constitution as a garden?
SN: Yes of course we have a constitution as Emganwini Garden.
MT: Does every member have access to that constitution, seeing it is an important document, in as far as the administration of this garden is concerned?
SN: Yes, every member has a copy.
MT: Ok. So what are the members saying about their constitution?
SN: What I can say is that we have not started using the constitution as such. It will become fully operational after the election of the new committee.
MT: Tell me, what have been some of your experiences as leaders in this garden; what have you learnt so far?
SN: We have learnt so many things about a human being. It is difficult to lead a human being because a person wants you to do what they think at that particular time. On top of that some people are just over suspicious of us. However, as a leader you have no choice but to face all that. Some people would just provoke you or even go on to falsely accuse or insult you. All these things mean that as a leader you need to be a courageous person. You have to just listen and allow people to say whatever they wish to say. You can then show them where they are making mistakes.
MT: Don’t you think ZDDT training on conflict management, which you underwent, comes in handy when faced with such situations? Have you ever tried to apply that in your garden as you lead people?
SN: That training helped us a lot because we are able to listen to whatever people say without having to answer back. We just let them say whatever they say. We can then show them where they could be wrong.
MT: Thank you so much for your time.
SN: It’s my pleasure.