South Africa

Cape Mayor

Plato voted in amid slings and arrows from councillors

Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato says country’s entire housing programme – including the upgrading of informal settlements — depends on protecting land from illegal occupation. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

After several dramatic weeks, which saw nine Democratic Alliance councillors resign from the party in one week, Dan Plato was officially elected as mayor of the City of Cape Town. But Tuesday’s special council sitting to inaugurate Plato was not all celebration for the DA as opposition councillors criticised everything from Patricia de Lille, the DA’s lack of delivery of social housing in the city centre to the party’s reputation of crime-fighting in the Cape Town.

Dan Plato, the man elected as a mayor on Tuesday following Patricia de Lille’s resignation after an ongoing and protracted fight with the Democratic Alliance, in his maiden speech tried to paint a positive picture of what the DA will do in a city that faces problems such as high water tariffs, a lack of social housing and a rail network that is on the brink of collapse.

Our motto, ‘Making Progress Possible. Together,’ is not just words in a sentence. It is the way that I want all of us to embrace the work that we do,” said Plato, stressing the importance of all councillors working together to fix the city’s problems.

But this did not sit well with other opposition parties.

ANC Councillor Xolani Sotashe said the DA was being “disingenuous” for trying to blame former mayor Patricia de Lille for the problems the city has faced recently –  including the water crisis. Sotashe criticised Plato directly, saying he had the “worst record of any Community Safety MEC” because the majority of the police stations that had the highest murder rates in the country were located within the Western Cape. Plato has been provincial MEC for Community Safety since 2011 before being nominated by the DA to become new mayor following De Lille’s resignation.

Sotashe said communities do not feel safe in their homes, and that Plato was ineffective at crime-fighting.

Plato said his first priority as mayor would be to address is policing in the city:

I know that policing remains a major concern. One of my first tasks will be to recruit more Metro Police for the city. They cannot replace the role of the South African Police Service (SAPS), but I will make sure that the city does what it can and plays its role when it comes to making our communities safer.”

EFF councillor Melikhaya Xego reminded Plato that despite his calls for unity he “it is clear that you are leading a divided party” – a direct reference to the ongoing crisis in the Democratic Alliance Cape Town caucus.

Despite these divisions, Xego pleaded with Plato to provide more housing within the city centre, saying “we appeal to you to continue what Brett Herron was doing – integrating people”.

Herron quit the party last week claiming there was a “white DA cabal” that was preventing social housing within the city.

During his speech, Plato announced he would be embarking on listening tours to get to know the residents of the city, as well as looking at lowering some of the water restrictions the city has been dealing with since last year.

Plato was elected by a majority, receiving 146 votes in council. Six ballots were spoilt.

The other nominees were Xolani Sotashi from the ANC, and the ACDP’s Grant Haskins, who received 53 and three votes respectively. DM


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