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​​MMC for Community Development, Cllr Ronald Winston Harris
Harris shares his passion for community development

The Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development, Cllr Ronald Winston Harris, was forced to grow up quickly following the untimely passing of his stepfather.
 
Originally from Westbury, west of Johannesburg, the young Harris was exposed to gang violence, poverty and other social ills while growing up in the rough neighbourhood. Had it not been for his mother’s tough love, he could have easily fallen through the cracks like most of his childhood friends and peers, who spent years in jail or died.
 
That is why Cllr Harris has since been determined to do everything he can to uplift himself and the communities around him.
 
He stepped into a grown man’s world working with his mother in her shop in Westbury, which exposed him to the harsh realities of growing up in a community with little to no opportunities.
 
He was eager to transform his circumstances and those of other people. It was then that he became an activist and fought against the Apartheid Government, which back then placed him in what was referred to as ‘a Coloured block’.
 
"In that Coloured block, I came to realise that people were and are still marginalised. It was a depressing environment, with all the socio-economic ills, drug dealing, and murders, among other things," he notes.

Harris worked at the City’s cemeteries as a recorder and was a librarian. He also worked at Pick ‘n Pay as part of its management training programme.

He later joined the fast-moving consumer goods business in Early Bird Farm, selling chickens, and then moved on to Tiger Brands.

In addition to his portfolio of work, it can be noted that MMC Harris worked as a CEO for a social housing institution for seven years and, from there, joined the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) in the provincial legislature, where he helped for nearly two years with service delivery issues.
 
"We were helping people with unblocking drains, fixing electrical issues that the council was supposed to do. When we had the last local government elections, ACDP made it possible for us to stand and make it onto the list to be elected to local government," he explains.
 
Harris holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from UNISA’s School of Business and London’s Open University. He also has plans to complete a Master’s in Public and Development Management at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance.
His new role encompasses everything that he has set out to accomplish and do for residents in the service of humanity. He’s essentially charged with the political oversight of community development to ensure policies and procedures are free, fair, and equitable, as well as ensuring access to the City’s facilities for all communities.
 
As MMC, he looks forward to the development of the youth and shaking off the shackles of Covid-19 that have held us hostage, for so long.
 
"I look forward to getting our people, the citizens of Johannesburg, exercising and active again, and getting them to see the many facilities that the City of Joburg has to offer. I also look forward to creating social cohesion programmes, where we get communities to play, meet and interact with each other," he says.

MMC Harris’s department is currently looking at the youth at risk programme, which entails helping young boys and girls from impoverished backgrounds change their mindsets to understand they are part of a functioning society.
 
"For me, ward 82 where I come from is remarkably close to my heart. Things like illegal dumping, although it’s not directly involved in our competency, there are ways and means that we can look around it. I am looking at urban farming and I want to encourage our Joburg City Parks and Zoo to talk to Social Development so that they can take over the urban farming component because there’s a lot that can be done," he adds.
 
Harris wants to leave a legacy of social cohesion in the City of Joburg.
 
"We’re all members of the community, whether you are Black, white, coloured, Indian, green, or pink, all of us, work as South Africans. No more working as individual tribes and nationalities but as South Africans," he concludes.

Written by Sascha-Lee Joseph
14/03/2022