Tough ask for mayor Plato

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Cape Town's new mayor says the war of words between DA leader Helen Zille and the ANC is "petty nonsense" that does not affect his administration.

Dan Plato was speaking at a press conference in Cape Town yesterday shortly after being elected mayor of Cape Town, replacing Zille, who is now premier of the Western Cape.

"That is politicking. We know [ANC Youth League leader Julius] Malema has been involved in lots of verbal brawls," said Plato, who entered politics in 1990 when he joined the now-defunct National Party.

The former head of housing and service delivery yesterday beat the ANC's candidate, Gugulethu ward councillor Belinda Landingwe, by 119 votes to 66 to become the city's new mayor.

His acceptance speech was overflowing with praise for Zille, who blew him kisses from the public gallery where she was watching.

"Helen, you are truly a remarkable person and leader. You brought a new dimension to service delivery through your ethic of hard work, transparency and efficiency," Plato said, while ANC councillors jeered from the floor.

It was a "daunting" job to fill Zille's big shoes, Plato said, adding that his number one priority would be to "promote job creation through economic growth".

He warned that with a recession coming, "revenue will be in shorter supply and the government will have less money for services".

In a city of 3,5million people, with over 200 informal settlements and more than 200000 people waiting for houses, Plato said he would not "pretend to be able to do everything for the citizens of Cape Town".

He said he would not retract statements made by Zille recently that Khayelitsha residents protesting for better services were instigated by the ANC as part of its plan to make Cape Town ungovernable.

"Even if the protests were instigated, it is our duty to go in there and make sure that service delivery takes place," Plato said.

He said he did not see himself as a "token to non-racialism".

"Some of the biggest portfolios in the city are driven by non-white people," Plato said.

ANC councillor Peter Gabriel said he hoped the ANC would have a better working relationship with Plato than they had with Zille.

Gabriel urged Plato to focus on the city's shack dwellers, saying "the former mayor was not able to address competently the poor condition of informal settlements".

"We hope the decisions of the city will be taken here and not in Wale Street [seat of the provincial government]," Gabriel said, in reference to allegations that Plato was doomed to be "remote-controlled" by Zille.

The UDM said they would only support Plato if he did not forget that Cape Town was made up of poor as well as rich people.

The Freedom Front Plus and PAC also urged Plato to concentrate on housing delivery.

"Take off your blue suede shoes and put on your gumboots," said the Universal Party's only councillor Martin Innies.