When accountant Pierre Voges turned 41, he decided he was tired of arguing about profit sharing and wearing suits and ties every day. So when the mayor of Port Elizabeth approached him to create a private company, the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), whose objective was to regenerate the central business district, he accepted.
The agency is not a municipal department but a section 21 company with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Industrial Development Corp as shareholders. Voges set it up in August 2004. “At the MBDA we work on a master plan. Every year we implement two or three infrastructure projects,” he says .
The agency’s philosophy, he adds, is to put public money into well researched projects in bad retail, residential, office, tourism and leisure areas. Eleven projects have been completed, including the rejuvenation of Govan Mbeki Ave, the building of the new stadium, the revitalisation of the Donkin Reserve and Uitenhage Market Square, and the creation of the Art Route. Under construction is the international convention centre. The annual R100m operating budget comes from the city, the Lotto and an international financial institution.
Voges took a BCom degree at Stellenbosch in 1983, then worked as a teacher with the KwaZulu Natal education department. In 1987, foreign affairs appointed him deputy director: international economic relations and in 1994 he became an RDP adviser in the president’s office before becoming chief director: trade, investment tourism at economic affairs tourism. He was appointed Western Cape Gambling Racing Board GM in 1997 and joined Grant Thornton International in 2000.
Voges says his philosophy is “keep it simple and do what you must do to get the job done”.