CITY OF CAPE TOWN
18 NOVEMBER 2021
COUNCIL SPEECH BY MAYOR GEORDIN HILL-LEWIS
A City of hope
This is the inaugural speech of Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
Honoured guests, friends, colleagues and my fellow Capetonians,
Good morning, goeiemôre, molweni, as-salamu alaykum,
It is the singular honour of my life to address you today for the very first time as the mayor of Cape Town.
Our city is a place of unrivalled natural beauty, our residents are a people of unlimited talent, and our future is brimming with unmatched potential.
I am deeply humbled by the trust you have placed in me to lead this great city into that future.
I pledge to work every single day to deepen the trust you have placed in me and this government team I now lead.
All that we may achieve will only be possible because we build on the work of those who have gone before.
I wish to honour my predecessor, Mayor Dan Plato, who laid the foundation that we will build on over the coming five years.
Ek sê vir jou baie dankie, Dan.
We can also only build on the platform of love and support from our families, and I am so grateful to have my wife Carla and daughter with me today in the gallery.
On this very first day of our new administration, I want every Capetonian to know what they should expect from us.
The government that has been elected by the people of Cape Town is gathered here today to publicly affirm that we will serve this city with a clear higher purpose.
And that purpose can be summed up in one sentence: to restore hope in South Africa by turning Cape Town into living proof that we can roll back poverty, that we can overcome the long shadows of our past, and that our country can still realise the society dreamed of in the founding document of our democracy, the Constitution.
A city more caring, more inclusive, more prosperous, more united, more respectful, more safe and more free.
My fellow Capetonians,
Today we map out the route for the purpose-driven journey of hope that we are embarking on.
Hierdie administrasie gaan handel met ‘n enkele doel voor oë, en dit is om weer hoop te gee aan die mense van Kaapstad.
Sinivile! Lo Rhulumente uzo-sebenzela ukunika ithemba kubantu besiXeko seKapa
To know where this journey should lead us, we first need to recognise where we are starting from.
The South Africa of 2021 is not the place our parents dreamed of in 1994.
Our country has been enveloped by a fear that things are heading in the wrong direction.
And if there is one thing that no society – and certainly no constitutional democracy – can survive without, it is hope.
Hope is the fuel that powers a society forward.
The belief that things can change, that progress is possible, and that problems can be solved.
Our journey today must start with the recognition that more and more South Africans are feeling hopeless about the future.
To the voters of Cape Town and indeed of the whole country who have lost hope and stayed home on Election Day, I want to say that we have heard your message loud and clear.
Ons het julle gehoor.
More of the same won’t cut it. Words are no longer enough. It is time for fresh thinking.
For our country to rekindle the hope we need, to fuel our future and safeguard our democracy, we need one place in South Africa that practically and unequivocally demonstrates that a prosperous future can still be realised.
A place that is not interested in merely managing decline, but in driving progress.
A place that aims higher, lifts it sights, raises its ambitions, and dares to think differently.
The place that does this for South Africa can, and must, be Cape Town.
That is why the higher purpose of our government here in Cape Town extends well beyond the city limits.
It matters profoundly to the future of every single South African that Cape Town succeeds in our mission to show that well-run city governments can solve the problems that too many of us have come to regard as unsolvable.
Ons kan en ons móét armoede verslaan.
Many governments around the world have meaningfully lifted millions of people out of poverty.
They have done so by understanding a simple truth: that good government underpins investment, investment underpins economic growth, and economic growth lifts people out of poverty.
Everything we do over the next five years will be focused on creating the conditions for the meaningfully faster economic growth we need to lift Capetonians out of poverty.
To the young person without a job living in Kuils River or Lentegeur or Kosovo, we dedicate ourselves today to nurture economic growth in this city so that you have a better chance of finding work.
To the small business owner who has done everything in your power to keep your doors open and keep paying your staff, we dedicate ourselves today to faster growth so that your business has a better chance at thriving.
To the single mothers who wake up at 4am to get to work to provide for your children, we dedicate ourselves today to playing our part in making this economy grow faster to give you more choices, and your children a better future.
To every Capetonian who still suffers the indignity and deprivation of poverty, we know that our higher purpose is to serve you – to grow this economy so that your burdens may be eased.
Economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis will require doubling our efforts to expand and maintain the infrastructure of the city, and ensure excellent services are delivered to all citizens and businesses.
But we also recognise that some of our citizens need more help today. Those whose efforts to seek new opportunity are frustrated by the brutal intersection of poverty and financial obligations.
It is with these residents in mind that I am today proud to announce that the first major commitment of this administration is to increase our allocation to free basic services by over R600 million in the next financial year.
This constitutes a 20% increase in our city’s investment in the free basic services that vulnerable residents rely on the most.
It will increase the total amount spent by the City every year on free basic services for the poorest residents from R3.1 billion to R3.7 billion.
Today we demonstrate our commitment to building a more inclusive and caring city with this very significant extra allocation to free basic services.
We also know that a growing economy requires constant infrastructure investment that keeps pace with our fast-growing city population.
Successful cities are always building and investing in new infrastructure. When you stop building, you stop growing.
And infrastructure is also vital for a city committed to care and dignity.
It is not possible for us to restore hope and dignity to communities while sewers are overflowing in some parts of the city.
Tomorrow, on day one, I am going straight to Khayelitsha and Phoenix, where there are serious challenges with sewage infrastructure.
We know that sewers will occasionally block and pump stations will sometimes break down.
But when these problems are reported, they must be attended to with the same speed and service excellence no matter where you live in Cape Town.
Let me make this absolutely clear: service complaints should be answered promptly, and residents given the respect of an explanation if their complaints will take some time to resolve.
That is the standard we set.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During the election campaign, I spoke about how we should restore a sense of pride to Cape Town.
However, that pride will not come from government alone.
We can only restore our sense of civic pride by joining hands with committed residents and active communities.
In that regard, I would like to welcome a very special person here today.
Ms. Caroline Marx from the Milnerton Ratepayers Association is an example to every Capetonian of the critical role active community organisations have to play in taking our city forward.
She almost single-handedly drove the issue of the deterioration of the Milnerton Lagoon.
In the process, she served as one of the early inspirations that convinced me to run for mayor, so that we could do more to fulfil Cape Town’s true potential.
Caroline, thank you for the often thankless work you have done. You are a committed, and proud Capetonian.
Our city needs more people like Caroline to get involved.
Even as we make more resources available to support vulnerable communities, we need residents to come forward and apply for our generous indigence program.
We need Capetonians to help us protect our infrastructure – all of us suffer when cables are stolen or drains are deliberately obstructed.
When metal is stolen, we cannot run trains or keep the lights on, and the most vulnerable suffer the most.
Dit kan regtig nie so aangaan nie. Ons kan nie aanhoudend skaars hulpbronne spandeer om infrastruktuur reg te maak wat doelbewus gebreek word nie.
We also need Capetonians to take pride in a cleaner city by helping to end the destructive practices of littering and illegal dumping.
It is time to clean up Cape Town.
Our international visitors are coming back, and we need to show them that Cape Town is back.
Ons almal weet dat jy eers jou huis ordentlik moet skoonmaak voordat jy besoekers kan verwelkom.
Over the coming weeks and months, I would like every one of us in this Council to roll up our sleeves and join with committed residents and community organisations to spring clean our city.
I will be out there, and hope to see you out there too.
Whenever a resident of our city travels to another part of the country or even abroad, I want them to feel a deep sense of personal pride when they tell people that they come from Cape Town.
Here in Cape Town, we also take pride in running a clean and ethical government.
I want to be clear that good governance is and will remain non-negotiable in Cape Town precisely because we are committed to serving the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.
It is the poor who benefit most from honest and clean administration – and it is the vulnerable who suffer the worst consequences of corruption.
When ambulances are broken, when fire engines don’t work, when taps run dry and when money meant for infrastructure is stolen, it is the poorest who pay the price.
Good governance is a profoundly moral commitment, and that is why it will be non-negotiable under this administration.
It is also out of this commitment that I can today announce that every member appointed to my mayoral committee will undergo a lifestyle audit upon assuming office.
After spending more than a decade in Parliament, I know full well that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Precisely because we want resources to reach the people who need it most, I intend to run an open, accessible and transparent government that regularly engages with residents, including in new and innovative ways through online platforms.
Our data should be open and accessible to residents and community groups and, wherever possible, it should be published proactively on our website.
And let me pause on the topic of accountability to address the members of the opposition in this Council.
I have come from a legislature where the government often shows a poor understanding of the vital constitutional role that a vigorous opposition must play.
Given my experience there, that will not happen here and the opposition will be respected for that important role you play.
For us to take Cape Town on this journey of hope, we must also rediscover the courage to envision the future we want.
Join me for a moment in imagining a Cape Town with reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity for all.
Imagine Cape Town as the easiest place on the entire African continent for entrepreneurs to build businesses and employ people.
Imagine our city with enough police officers and resources to turn the tide against crime and make our communities safer.
Imagine a city with a booming construction industry that provides thousands of new homes to Capetonians.
Imagine Cape Town with a functioning and integrated public transport system, where modern trains run like major arteries through our city, while bus routes link with the rail system to form the veins that reach every community across the city.
Now let’s stop imagining this future, and let’s start building it!
Kom ons kry dit gedoen!
Masenze izinto zenZeke
We are going to end load-shedding in Cape Town over time.
Why? Because economic growth that restores hope to unemployed and impoverished residents requires a stable electricity supply.
We are going to cut red tape and make our city the premier investment destination in Africa so that we can create thousands of new jobs.
Because nothing provides a sense of dignity, purpose and pride like gainful employment.
We are going to expand the successful LEAP programme and invest in modern crime-fighting technology.
Because reducing crime is a prerequisite for lifting the oppression and anxiety that comes with living in fear, especially in our poorest and most vulnerable communities.
We are going to release city-owned land and fight for the national government to do the same, so that we can deliver thousands of new homes and title deeds to residents.
Because this year marks 30 years since the repeal of the Group Areas Act, and we know that the state alone cannot deliver homes at the scale we need to right the injustice of that law in our City – and because we know that providing title deeds and ownership to our poorest communities holds the key to achieving true economic freedom.
We are also going to expand the MyCiti bus service, restore the N2 express route, and work towards taking over passenger rail in Cape Town.
Because safe and reliable public transport restores hope in the future by linking unemployed people with work opportunities, and making it cheaper for families to get to school and move around our city.
We are going to do these things not only because this is the overwhelming mandate we have received from voters, but also because it is this administration’s moral obligation to get this done.
My fellow Capetonians,
The purpose we have chosen to fulfil is to turn Cape Town into a beacon of hope for South Africa at a time when millions of citizens believe that our country is past the point of no return, and where local governments are happy to just manage decline.
I am not one of those people.
This is not one of those governments.
I am motivated by a deep and abiding love for the people of this city and of this country.
I am inspired every day by the resilience, talent and passion of the people of Cape Town.
And I believe that it is by supporting, nurturing and empowering the people of this city that we will restore hope in our collective future.
But above all, we – the elected government of the City of Cape Town – will not entertain for even one second the idea that our best days are behind us.
Our best days are ahead of us. We are just getting started.
Today, we plant a flag for the very best that Cape Town and South Africa can be.
Now we join hands with our neighbours and friends across this beautiful city and go out from this place to begin the work of the next five years, of building a city of pride, where ambition and hard work will light the way to a prosperous and inclusive new future for South Africa.
Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town, 19 November 2021