Council speech by Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor, City of Cape Town

Speech delivered by the Executive Mayor this morning during a full sitting of Council

Today we mourn the death of Alex Boraine, who, after resigning from Parliament in 1986, co-founded IDASA - the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, and who is perhaps most famous for being one of the key architects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), where from 1996 to 1998 he also served as vice chair alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

We also pay our respects to Mendi Msimang, who served as the African National Congress treasurer for 20 years, and as High Commissioner in London, England from 1995 - 1998.

I want to welcome you all, let us work together and not against each other as we all know that we have work to do. The work I speak of is ensuring that services are delivered to the people of this city. I have spent my first month in office first meeting with the top management of this administration and their teams to understand what they have been doing, and what they have planned.

I also received a number of welcome and support letters from the unions, religious fraternity, and civil society groups, which I am very thankful for.

After the sessions with the top management I started visiting our communities, including Phillipi East; Marikana; Lower Crossroads; Bonteheuwel; Netreg; Delft; Strand; Broadlands; Mitchells Plain; Brackenfell; Atlantis; the Cape Town CBD; Khayelitsha; Parow; Dunoon and Elsies River. I went door to door in many of these communities, and in others the residents gathered in community halls. I listened to the residents and wanted to find out first-hand what their concerns are.

Let me be frank with you, we have work to do. Potholes, blocked drains, uncut grass, leaking water management devices, and grime on our streets and sidewalks � these are just some of the basics that we need to get right. Housing needs, street lighting in certain areas, congestion on our roads, a faltering rail service and crime � there is no point in sugar coating this. I want to see these issues addressed, and with urgency, because we are going to continue having honest conversations about these challenges until they are resolved.

But let me also say that I was happy to see that there is much we are doing right as a City.

Earlier this week, the first 181 beneficiaries of the Delft housing project received keys to their new homes. Once construction of the current phase is completed, 2 112 new housing opportunities will have been created. Overall, the greater Delft housing project will provide 2 400 State-subsidised housing opportunities.

And this past weekend we hosted the wonderful HSBC Sevens World Series. Over 100 000 visitors came to Cape Town Stadium to enjoy the sun, sport and a weekend of fun. This event alone brings in close to R700 million for our local economy, and creates approximately 1 500 jobs. I was pleased to be able to invite many youth from our disadvantaged communities along, as guests of the Mayor, to come and enjoy the games too.

So when I hosted a press conference two weeks ago with all our top event organisers to announce that this city was just awarded the Events and Festival Capital of the World, I knew what this award meant for the people of Cape Town � even more job opportunities and skills development opportunities for our communities. We worked hard to get this recognition and we did it for the people of this beautiful city.

Just this week, Cape Town was voted as the greatest city in the world by readers of the UK's Telegraph newspaper. Cape Town took the honours for a sixth year in a row, beating other cities like Tokyo and Vancouver to the top spot. Once again, these accolades must continue to translate into much-needed entrepreneurial and job opportunities for the unemployed.

Cllr James Vos has a major task ahead of him and he is going to have to work closely with our tourism partners, and provincial counterpart, the Western Cape Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Beverly Shaffer, to ensure that Cape Town remains the number one destination for tourists; and that our communities keep benefiting from job creation and skills development opportunities that this sector brings. I want to urge the business sector to work closely with us here because, even though this metro has the lowest unemployment in the country, there are still more jobs to be created.

The City of Cape Town is a city that is open for business, but this doesn't just happen. It takes hard work by our officials and our many partners to market the city and put the systems in place to make it easy to do business here.

Even during tough times our doors stay open because we are a resilient city. We overcome our challenges and find ourselves more prepared afterwards, which is why I am confident we will deal with those challenges that still lie ahead.

Today the review of the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) is placed before Council.

The new structure that is being proposed does not mean we will be turning away from our policies. It is in fact a proposal to ensure that our policies, our IDP, and our commitment to redressing apartheid spatial design and to promoting transit-oriented development.

These are priority areas for this administration and I want to see results. There has been enough time for planning. I want to see implementation, and I know the officials are capable of delivering on this mandate.

I have noted some in the print media who prefer to spread misinformation about the size of my Mayoral Committee (Mayco) being increased. Let me make this clear: the size of the Mayco is staying exactly the same, but we are making changes to the portfolios to ensure improved service delivery for the people of Cape Town.

Some directorates in this administration were just far too big with too much authority and responsibility given to one Mayco member.

One just needs to look at the lack of delivery here to understand why we are splitting the portfolio. I would much rather have two strong leaders here, working together, and this is exactly what we are going to do. Even the unions have shown their support for this restructuring, and the senior managers have breathed a sigh of relief as they will have more clarity and direction going forward.

Under the new leadership, this City will do far more to address apartheid spatial design. There will be less talk and more action.

Our Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme team needs to get ready, because they are going to be integral to addressing the urban upgrade of many of our communities. I know what that programme is capable of, and I want to see results.

There are some other matters that are long overdue, like the Bo-Kaap Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ).

This Council has an opportunity today to ensure that a public participation is held so that we can bring this matter to a close; and, should it be supported, to provide the community of the Bo-Kaap with heritage protection.

I met with the Bo-Kaap Civic Association last week and explained to them the process that we are following, and that this time there will be no delay tactics as was seen before.

Council also has the opportunity today to ratify the amendments made with regard to the Salt River Social Housing project, which will see even more social housing opportunities than the previous proposal.

Where we deliver social housing we need to do it right, and not take shortcuts or simply tick boxes. In the previous financial year we delivered around 3 500 houses. I want to see that number increased significantly, and I know we are capable of doing it.

I am not even going to bother addressing the misinformation that some people are trying to spread in the media. Let them continue to lie to themselves about the failures under their watch. We will be looking forward, and getting on with business.

We are bound by national legislation when it comes to housing delivery, and we cannot turn our backs on that so I want to thank those who have been waiting patiently, like 92-year-old Mama Nonceba from Beacon Valley, who received her house, and whom I was so pleased to meet last month.

Mayco member, Cllr Malusi Booi, and our housing officials have their work cut out for them � I want to see the full housing budget used to build houses, and I call on all community organisations to assist us here and not block us from housing delivery. The more that you illegally occupy property, the less time we can spend on delivering houses.

When it comes to housing delivery, we need to look at medium- to higher-density projects as we need to house more people on the limited land that is available. We need to address the issue of higher-density delivery sooner rather than later.

I have picked up on my listening tour that some people still prefer a single dwelling on a single plot but this is not sustainable. If one looks at urban development around the world, this trend has shifted. Housing delivery is about higher-density housing and locating economic development opportunities in the areas in which housing is delivered. People need to be close to where they work.

I want to applaud the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, the City's MURP team, and the Manenberg community leadership for the signing of the memorandum of understanding for the Manenberg Community Action Plan. The urban upgrade being planned for this community can have an enormous impact on increasing safety for the residents, changing the environment for residents and the creating local job opportunities.

In the new year, I will be looking at the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP) in more detail as I know the potential that exists in this programme, and I want to see it fully unlocked for even more areas.

We have seen many challenges facing our country, many of which are beyond the control of a local municipality. One things is clear, and that is that when local governments work and cities function well, our country benefits. This is why I am urging the National Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, to expedite the upgrading of the rail system in Cape Town. The authority lies with him, and my office and this administration is ready to assist the Minister.

The DA-led Western Cape has created 75% of all jobs in South Africa in the past year. This is a fact.

The recent launch of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone is testament to what can be achieved when we all work together. Imagine the even bigger benefit to the rest of the country if our rail system worked, and how many more jobs could be created for our people.

At the beginning of this month we reduced the water tariffs and restrictions, but I want to urge our residents and our visitors to please continue to be water-wise. We cannot rest on our laurels.

December also allows us to pause and reflect on World AIDS Day, which is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away. We need to continue to show support for people living with HIV, increase awareness, to fight prejudice and to improve education.

I want to remind the councillors here today that the 16 days of Activism Campaign of No Violence towards Women and Children did not end on 10 December: it is a continuous campaign for 365 days of the year.

We have seen a number of horrific attacks and assaults towards women and children during the campaign. It is part of your duty to make sure our communities know where to come when they are in need of support.

While we still have a shortage of police officers in this city, we need to assist the police to fight crime. It is not the officers' fault that they are short-staffed, so work with them please and understand that they are trying to do their job in difficult circumstances.

One of the ways that councillors can help almost immediately is to spend some of their ward allocation funding on installing CCTV cameras. I hope in the new year that I will see some of your ward allocations go towards safety initiatives.

Before I close off, it is of critical importance that we acknowledge that South Africa's residents and economy are once again suffering the crippling effects of National Government's gross incompetence in the form of load-shedding.

Years of neglect and catastrophic debt, not to mention brazen corruption, have led the national power utility to where it finds itself today, and the picture is indeed grim.

The City of Cape, like the rest of the country, will be affected by Eskom's inability to fulfil its mandate in supplying reliable energy to keep households and businesses running.

We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate necessary developments with the public as timeously as possible. We will continue to do everything possible to reduce the impact of National Government's failures on Cape Town's residents.

In closing, with the festive season upon us, I want to urge residents not to drink and drive, and to respect the laws of the road. To the beach-goers, enjoy yourselves, keep an eye on your children and please leave your alcohol at home, because you know it is not allowed. Our law enforcement officers are simply going to confiscate it.

To all the councillors and officials and the residents of our beautiful City of Cape Town, I wish you all a wonderful, safe and relaxing festive season. Come back refreshed and energised in the new year, ready to make 2019 the year of delivery!

Source: City of Cape Town