Mr. Sindile Ngonyama

Mr Sindile NgonyamaWhen Mr. Sindile Ngonyama visited the City of Cape for the first time, in 1975, as a high school student and a son of a migrant labourer, it never dawned to him that a noble profession called architecture even exists.

Registering with the University of Cape Town as an architectural  student in later years, was not even a pipe dream, as it was completely beyond anybody’s imaginations due to the socio- political situation that existed at the time.

14th September 2012 marked yet another milestone in Mr. Sindile Ngonyama’s life and his professional career, as his name will be added to the list of men and women whom he dearly pays homage to, for having sacrificed their families quality time, and some even their lives, in ensuring that today there is a thriving and respectable body called The South African Institute of Architects.

Mr. Sindile Ngonyama was elected as the new President of SAIA and was officially inaugurated and accepted the chain of office at the Corobrik-SAIA Awards Gala Dinner held in Cape Town on the 14th of September, 2012.

This is what he had to say on the day of his inauguration.

“You have afforded me an opportunity to steer this ship, I therefore make an appeal to you all, to give me a chance to do just that. Allow me to take this opportunity to recognise and acknowledge excellent work and massive strides taken by my predecessors, the Past Presidents of SAIA whose names are engraved on this chain, together with all their support teams:- nationally and regionally, some of which were eloquently spelt out earlier by the Immediate Past President Fanuel Motsepe, in his President Report.

There is no doubt in my mind that all what SAIA has achieved to date under very trying circumstances, can only be attributed to the vision and leadership of these giants before me”.


As a country, we need to recognise the fact that we are in a state of a crisis, therefore we cannot operate as if it is “business as usual”. We are faced with a situation whereby our economy is not performing well on a global stage, as a result of this, we are experiencing:- High levels of unemployment, job losses, loss of skills to other countries due to a number of reasons and socio economic challenges which render our country to be an unsustainable welfare state.

Drastic population mobility to urban centres which, themselves have inadequate or no support infrastructure. Like everyone else in the globe, we are faced with challenges associated with the changes in the climatic and weather patterns, which will continue to affect our Built Environment.


Review of SAIA Engagements with other bodies.

Much as it is my vision and wish to carry through the historical and traditional professional engagements SAIA has had in the past, with various sister bodies, government departments and international structures, we need to pause and take stock of; Whether all these engagements reinforce and enhance our relevance as an Institute to our broader society or whether they allow our Institute to take its rightful position and positively contribute in this dynamic 21st century discourse or whether (without us even knowing) this engagements just stifle our existence in the eyes of our society, and reduce us to an ineffective body that sits somewhere in an ivory tower, singing inaudible praises and beating drums to itself.

Relevance and Repositioning of SAIA to its rightful place in the Built Environment

Acknowledging that the construction sector plays a crucial role in the economy of the country, and acknowledging the inherent value of our environment and the limited natural resources, it is my view that as SAIA we need to commit to engage in the economic activities happening within our space, promoting responsible utilization of financial, human and biophysical resources, with the view of attaining sustainable future.

I make this commitment acknowledging the fact that: any country’s wealth, is its people, and that architecture serves the people of the country, it is therefore the duty of our institute to enable our membership to participate meaningfully in the shaping of our built environment so as to ensure that it is suitable for socio-cultural, economic, physical and spiritual activities.

Transformation Agenda

With respect to the transformation agenda, let me categorically state that this programme is meant to cut across all our activities as an Institute, therefore it is needless for me to spell out my intentions as my entire Presidential Agenda will directly or indirectly revolve around this issue.

However, let me commit myself to ensuring that some of the strategies which our regional and national offices have been discussing and developing over the past four to five years, get operationalized immediately, so as to register immediate gains, whilst we continue to formulate strategies for the big picture.

Constitutional Reforms

There are debates around the proposed constitutional reforms. I personally endorse this initiative, as it will enable us to work closely as a collective, as opposed to the manner in which we currently operate. It will afford us opportunities of utilising our resources efficiently and further present opportunities of tapping into our varied skills and areas of speciality currently spread around the country.

In crafting these reforms, the task team mandated with this work, has been very sensitive in dealing with matters directly affecting various regions and my gratitude goes to people like Mr. Eugene Barnard for working so relentlessly in getting this task to where it currently is.

I look forward to positive contributions, as I will be leading a delegation to engage with individual regions, in finalising and operationalizing this aspect.

UIA XXV World Congress Durban 2014

Let me also join the chorus led by Mr. Hassan Asmal in recording the value the Institute attributes to the support which the National Department of Public Works and the City of Durban continue to provide towards the hosting of the UIA’s XXV World Congress in 2014. Of equal importance is the support we are getting from some of the private corporates which at this stage I am not at liberty to mention by names.

We need to recognise that this event is going to be the Architects World Cup and all the eyes of the world will be cast on the continent of Africa and specifically to South Africa. I wish to invite all of us to participate and support this event. We need to capitalise on preparing for this event, with the view of creating a lasting legacy which could impact to the manner in which we train students and practise architecture in the future.


Apart for the aforementioned constitutional reform visits, to the regions, it is my intention to have strategic interactions with a variety of individual members, corporate members and alliance partners, to share views and ideas that can improve the manner in which we do our business, and to enhance relevance and effectiveness of our profession in the greater society.


I would have failed dismally if I do not recognise the support I have continued to enjoy from my wife Zanele and my three children over all these years of my involvement with the institute’s work. I am confident that this will even be more noticeable as I embark upon this mammoth task of presiding over SAIA’s activities.

With the same breath I wish to thank my practice for allowing me time to serve the institute. Lastly I wish to thank members of the BKIA and all my colleagues in different regions for exposing me to this rare and golden opportunity.

I therefore accept the honour bestowed upon me, with deep humility and henceforth pledge my personal commitment and support to all the positive initiatives the Institute will continue to embark upon.


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