The City of Gold has found its shine again

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered this evening by the newly elected Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Cllr Mpho Phalatse.

Mr Speaker,
Leaders of Political Parties represented in this Council,
Honourable Members of Council; and,
The people of Johannesburg!

I would firstly like to thank God, without whom none of this would have been possible. I started this journey with Him.

It is through His help that we have made it this far, and it is with His wisdom and guidance that we will rally all 270 councillors in the Johannesburg City Council towards rebuilding our broken city. To Him be the glory!

I would like to thank the leadership of the Democratic Alliance for having faith in me and standing behind me to lead the economic hub of South Africa and the continent for the next five years.

To all the councillors who voted for me – our Council is clearly more united than we realise. We may not have found each other around negotiating tables, but we evidently remain bound by our common mission even beyond our ability to formalise those ties.

Thank you for putting your trust in me. I had worked well with all 11 political parties when I served as the MMC for Health and Social Development from 2016 to 2019. The same attitude and disposition will be translated to the now 18 political parties in the current political term. Re tlile go aga mmogo.

To my mom and dad, my children Phenyo, Thapelo and Khumo – you have made numerous sacrifices to support my vision for Johannesburg. I am eternally grateful, and I promise to make your gift to me and to our residents count in no small measure.

To my colleagues, friends, and those who unfailingly pray for me – your support on this journey has been invaluable. I owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

May you continue to hold my hand and hold the fort in the areas I need you to. It is going to be a challenging but exciting five years, and with your continued support we will have many more celebratory milestones.

It would be completely remiss of me if I were to fail to express my sincerest thank you to the people of this great City for their determination in keeping our constitutional democracy alive and well by coming out to vote for the political parties of their choice in the 2021 local government elections on November 1.

The occasion of my election as the first democratically elected female Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg belongs to the residents who stood in long lines for hours and refused never to give up, even as they experienced countless electoral challenges, and despite the pouring rains in some areas.

In addition, an even more important message to the women of this Council and the women of this City.

You have a voice. And you must never EVER hesitate in using it. Do not wait for something to come along. Put up your hand now and avail yourself for something.

Just imagine what could be happening today if I had not put up my hand over a year ago and decided to be my party’s Mayoral Candidate. We possibly would not be having the first female Mayor of the City of Johannesburg standing before all of you here today.

I also want to thank all individual councillors and their political parties who, in their wisdom, decided that I should be their Executive Mayor.

We all know this has not been a smooth ride. The road was visibly riddled with potholes, and, at times, it seemed completely untraversable. But we put the interests of the people of this City ahead of our own.

I am under no illusion that it would be easy to bring together all the political players in this esteemed Council. But I also know that all the elected Councillors in this house are only seeking to do the best they can for those who elected them. With their unwavering support, I know we can, and will, take this City to even greater heights.

We have demonstrated that a people united can indeed never be defeated. We have shown that it is possible to unite behind our primary mission of delivering good quality municipal services to all communities around the City in a sustainable manner, just as the provisions of section 152 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, dictate.

During the campaign, I spent many hours in every corner of Johannesburg, listening to what residents had to say and what they wanted changed.

Residents were not just asking for change; they were roaring for it.

That is why I intend, in the next few days, to have fuller consultative sessions with all political parties represented in Council to solicit their inputs on our Plan for the First 100 Days in office to make it as inclusive as possible.

This plan shall be made public to enable the people of Johannesburg to track our performance and to hold us to account, as they should in an open and democratic society.

The election is over, and the work of serving the people of Joburg must begin.

Regardless of political party, every councillor here has a responsibility to ensure this term is not characterised by instability and chaos. The City of Johannesburg BARELY survived the past 5 years and does not deserve a repeat of that ugly episode.

Every party and councillor within this Council can play a part in rebuilding Johannesburg. You do not need to be in government to help make a difference. Even as an opposition councillor, you have a voice in committee and Council. You can engage your political counterparts in office to discuss basic service delivery needs and the means to achieve them.

I am reminded of the political maturity of the late Mayor of Johannesburg – a friend to many of us here, including myself. Jolidee Matongo was always willing to listen to the inputs of opposition councillors in committee and go so far as to agree with their views, once he had determined in his mind that such views made sense.

Even during his short stint as Mayor, he was willing to take my calls relating to critical service delivery matters and would personally follow up on them.

So, when I say that the elections are over, I mean it. We have no need to continue with any electioneering in this Council over the next five years. Ours is to ensure that basic services are sustainably and consistently delivered to the residents.

The voters made their voice loud and clear in these recent elections. We are all aware that no party got a majority in this Council. That means no single party can govern alone on the mandate of the people.

Even if this will be a DA-led coalition government, we would still warmly welcome colleagues from opposition parties to engage us in the next few weeks. Give us your constructive inputs on service delivery matters that we can pursue in the coming months. Share with us your ideas to bring positive change in the community you will be working in.

Every corner of Johannesburg needs leadership, and every councillor here can be that leader. But do not stop there. Let us keep those channels of communication open throughout these five years, regardless of which party is in government.

We have the political will to come together, to represent every constituent of this great Metro, and be the country’s beacon of multi-party, representative democracy.

We are all elected members of this Council and have a chance to be a part of the renewal of our great City.

We are all aware the state that Johannesburg now finds itself in.

It is broken, but it can and will be fixed again.

The most basic services must be restored to those who have gone without them.

Whether a resident is from Diepsloot or Norwood,

Linden or South Hills,

Roodepoort or Braamfontein,

Melville or Morningside,

Alex or Parktown,

I want every resident to be proud of living in the City of Gold that will find its shine again.

It is after all, the biggest metro in South Africa. That alone should make us immensely proud to call this City our home.

While Nelson Mandela Bay has the sandy beaches, Cape Town the majestic mountains, and Durban with the never-ending tropical summers, Johannesburg has the Sandton and Hillbrow skyscrapers – the very beacons that signal and confirm that this is truly the economic hub of the Republic.

Johannesburg is an important City for our country, and one that can lead the much-needed economic recovery for the people, after so much suffering during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.

From the rock bottom of my heart, a big thank you for the opportunity to serve the people of Johannesburg. I know the challenges ahead seem insurmountable. But I promise to give this mammoth responsibility my all from this day onwards. With your continued support, I know we shall neither falter nor fail.

I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me. It is my undertaking that I shall never disappoint any of you.

Ke a leboga!!
Baie dankie!!