Cape Town mayor’s team ‘too white’Comment on this story
Cape Town - Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has been criticised for her mayoral committee reshuffle with opposition parties saying it was not promoting transformation and did not reflect the demographics of the city and province.
Last weekend, De Lille announced her new mayco with several new faces as two former mayco members, Tandeka Gqada from human settlements and Lungiswa James, moved to Parliament.
The recent defection of Grant Pascoe to the ANC also opened a spot on the team.
De Lille’s mayoral committee is made up of seven whites, three coloureds and one black man.
In the reshuffle, JP Smith, Ian Neilson, Ernest Sonnenberg and Brett Herron remain in their respective portfolios of safety and security, finance, utility services and transport.
Belinda Walker has also remained at community services and special projects, and Suzette Little remains at social and early childhood development. Garreth Bloor was moved to marketing, events and tourism.
The four newcomers are: Johan van der Merwe for economic, environment and spatial planning; Benedicta van Minnen for health; Xanthea Limberg for corporate services; and Siyabulela Mamkeli for human settlements.
ANC chief whip Xolani Sotashe said: “It is really unfortunate that you have two ladies holding powerful positions in the Western Cape and are supposed to be custodians of transformation and change. But they are still perpetuating the privileges of the white minority.”
Sotashe said, while it was De Lille’s prerogative to appoint her mayco, it was unfortunate that the appointments did not reflect the demographics of the city and province.
“She continues to perpetuate the rule of white minority. I am not trying to be racist, but is is a fact. History will show that when Zille and de Lille were at the helm, they did not appoint to reflect the demographics of the city and province,” Sotashe said.
United Democratic Front councillor Malcolm Taylor said: “The mayor has the power to decide who can be there. I support the idea that one has to open up the mayco and make it more representative, but politics in the Western Cape is made up of all of us. And I don’t think they listen to the smaller parties enough.”
He said there was “definitely a lack of proper representation” of all races.
“But I wouldn’t want it only to go on race, but also party-wise; they should include people from other parties as well.”
Cape Muslim Congress councillor Yagyah Adams said: “From the perspective of a small party, we regularly get ignored. There is no consultation and we don’t know what happens on that (mayco) level. I think they needed to appease the Afrikaners because they got rid of a lot of them in Parliament.”
“JP (Smith) and Brett (Herron) are doing a good job, I’m glad they kept them because now there is good continuity. I don’t want to go around ethnic counting, but once again there is no Muslim in sight.”
Freedom Front councillor Andre Fourier said: “We don’t support quotas or affirmative action; people should be appointed on merit and, where possible, people who were previously disadvantaged should be given mentorship and an opportunity to apply for jobs.”
He singled out Little, saying she had not made a major impression in council.
Al Jamah-Ah councillor Ganief Hendricks said: “The appointments are obviously not in line with the demographics in the city, but we know the DA’s policy is about ‘fit for purpose’. We have a problem with the fact that no effort was made to reflect the demographics of the city.”
He also said mayco should have councillors from opposition parties.
De Lille earlier said the new team was the right blend of youth and experience, knowledge and expertise.
De Lille’s chief of staff, Paul Boughey, said: “Opposition parties are missing the point entirely. The mayor acted to fill vacancies arising from the promotion to the national Parliament of previous incumbents. When making the appointments, the mayor considered a number of criteria including skill set, diversity and gender. As a result of these deliberations, two woman and two men were appointed.”
Boughey added: “It is also important to review all full-time councillor appointments such as sub-council chairs, portfolio committee chairs and mayco members to see that the diversity of Cape Town is fully reflected.”