Zille officially occupies W Cape's hot seat

zille07052009 I swear: Western Cape premier-elect Helen Zille takes an oath during the swearing-in of new MPs at the National Assembly in Cape Town. Photo: Michael Walker, Pretoria News

The Democratic Alliance provincial administration would be dedicated to the truth, open to scrutiny and accountable to the province's people, DA leader Helen Zille said minutes after she took the oath as Premier of the Western Cape.

"We agreed our term of office over the next five years will be informed by two core values. Firstly, a dedication to establishing and telling the truth in each situation we face. Secondly, a commitment to defining, accepting and meeting our responsibilities," Zille said in her acceptance speech in a packed provincial legislature on Wednesday.

She said such a commitment was the best way to counter corruption, which had become a cancer in society.

Zille said that, while people had to accept their rights were coupled to their roles as responsible citizens, there were countless examples where personal responsibility was neglected. She said HIV and Aids was an example, and while the state had to accept its responsibility, no government could force individuals to change their behaviour.

"Personal responsibility is all the more important because our challenges are so great and resources so limited. This is graphically illustrated by yet another example, drawn from my recent experience as mayor of Cape Town. Out of every R3 the city spends on installing services where they are most needed, R2 is spent on repairs to vandalised infrastructure.

"If a government spends more than half the allocated capital budget fixing things that should not have been broken, fewer than half the number of people get the services that should have been their right.

"Perhaps the most serious inhibitors of opportunity and rights in our province are drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. The two often go hand in hand.

"Police estimate that up to 80 percent of crime in this province is linked to substance abuse, as are the majority of fatal accidents.

"Children who have children inhibit their own rights and opportunities, as well as those of their babies, with lasting social consequences," Zille said.

The state had a role in changing circumstances that gave rise to social ills. Breaking the cycle was a responsibility shared with citizens who understood personal discipline was essential if the fruits of freedom were to be enjoyed.

Earlier the DA MPLs were first to take their seats before yesterday's swearing in ceremony began. As members of political parties exchanged greetings COPE's provincial chairman, Mbulelo Ncedana, shook hands with his ANC counterpart, Mcebisi Skwatsha, as did Cope's Allan Boesak and the DA's Robin Carlisle

After all MPLs took the oath with Western Cape High Court Judge Dennis Davis presiding, DA provincial leader Theuns Botha nominated Zille as premier and Skwatsha nominated former premier Lynne Brown. A subsequent ballot gave Zille 24 votes and Brown 14. Four papers were spoilt.

The ANC also contested the speaker's position by nominating former Housing MEC Whitey Jacobs who received 14 votes, but with 24 votes, the DA's Shahid Esau became speaker.

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