METRO MAYOR PROFILE
New dawn for Tshwane as DA’s ‘comeback kid’ Cilliers Brink assumes mayoral position
Tshwane residents got a new mayor – the DA’s Cilliers Brink – this week after more than a month of being in limbo.
There is hope that the City of Tshwane may return to a semblance of stability after a riotous period of almost 45 days of uncertainty and mayhem that started with the resignation of former mayor Randall Williams on 13 February and the dramatic election and subsequent resignation of Dr Murunwa Makwarela as the city’s mayor.
DA councillor and the party’s former member of Parliament Cilliers Brink has now assumed the mayoral position with a promise of a clean, effective and corruption-free administration. He was elected on Tuesday, beating the Congress of the People’s candidate, Ofentse Moalusi, by 109 votes to 102.
Read more in Daily Maverick: How the DA’s Cilliers Brink was elected as the City of Tshwane’s executive mayor
Brink, a law graduate from the University of Pretoria, was born on the East Rand in Gauteng but grew up in Phalaborwa in Limpopo.
He started his political career when he was elected Tshwane councillor in 2012. Then, in 2016, he became a member of the mayoral committee, working as MEC for corporate and shared services. In 2019, he was deployed to Parliament as the DA’s deputy shadow minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), where he served until 2020, before assuming the role of shadow minister for Cogta from 2020 until September 2022. He has been the DA’s national spokesperson since then.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Our visual timeline of the chaos in the council chambers over recent weeks
The 35-year-old returned to Tshwane politics earlier this year after Willaims’s resignation.
No easy road
However, Brink’s rise to the position of mayor has not been easy: he was beaten to the post by Dr Murunwa Makwarela on 28 February 2023. He was also blamed for the DA-led multiparty coalition’s loss of the Tshwane Speaker’s position on 14 March 2023.
In a strategy crafted by Brink and other DA leaders in the City, DA councillors were assigned individual numbers which they were instructed to use on their ballot papers when voting for Speaker. The strategy backfired when the electoral commission (IEC) disqualified the ballots.
It was apparent that the numbered ballots were aimed at revealing which way the DA councillors voted, which, according to the IEC, is against the rules and regulations of a secret, free and fair election.
Mncedi Ndzwanana emerged as the new Speaker during an evening that proved disastrous for Brink and the coalition.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Fists, foul language and legal threats fly in Tshwane council after dramatic vote for speaker
Unfazed by these setbacks, Brink vowed to stay on as a DA councillor and fight for the mayoral position, despite rumours that he would return to Parliament.
And he doesn’t object to being described by Daily Maverick as “the comeback kid”.
Time to get ‘serious’
In his acceptance speech in council on Tuesday night, Brink said: “We want to build a capital city that works for its people, one that improves the lives of the poor, and creates opportunities for all people to move up in life. I have sat in the opposition benches before, and I know the difference between a mayor who respects the opposition and debate, and one who treats all politics as if it were war.
“There will be time for battle, but there also has to be time for serious deliberation, for earnest debate, for empathy and for cooperation. Each of us, no matter how politically warm-blooded we are, must love our city and our country more than we dislike each other.”
On Wednesday, Gauteng DA leader and former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga described Brink’s election as a great opportunity to refocus city governance on service delivery to residents.
“The DA in Gauteng welcomes the election of councillor Cilliers Brink as the new executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane. Mr Brink now leads the City’s multiparty coalition government and we, like our coalition partners, have full confidence in his ability to deliver on the promise of clean and compassionate governance,” he said.
Parachutes and reservations
Meanwhile, Congress of the People (Cope) Tshwane spokesperson Mpho Brian Mkhono told Daily Maverick on Wednesday night that his party congratulated Brink with reservations.
“Experience has taught us that in the last seven years no DA mayor has finished a term in office. We hope that Cilliers Brink will prove us wrong and finish his term of office.”
About Cope’s defeated candidate, Moalusi, Mkhono said in a WhatsApp message to Daily Maverick this week that he is a “parachuted candidate” who is not a resident of Tshwane but lives in Joburg.
According to Mkhono, Moalusi was foisted on the residents of Tshwane as Cope’s mayoral candidate and councillor by the party’s leader, Mosiuoa Lekota, and City of Joburg Speaker Colleen Makhubele. He said the party’s preferred candidate for these jobs was Thabang Sefanyetso, who was kicked out of council chambers after allegations emerged that he is in possession of two identity documents – one authentic, the other fraudulent – which he submitted to the IEC upon being selected by Cope as a candidate.
On to service delivery
The ANC’s Tshwane regional secretary, George Matjila, told Daily Maverick on Thursday morning that the party was satisfied that the mayoral contest was done and dusted and that the focus would now be service delivery.
“We have given the DA-led coalition a list of five priorities, which are:
- To resolve the water crisis in Hammanskraal and Bronkhorspruit;
- To relocate the people of Mamelodi who live in floodline areas;
- To resume waste collection activities in the townships of Tshwane;
- To fill potholes and maintain parks; and
- To fix street lights and stabilise the City’s finances.
“We congratulate Brink on his election, but we are certainly going to hold him accountable,” Matjila added. DM