Today during a full council meeting, City of Cape Town speaker, Alderman Dirk Smit, announced his retirement as Speaker and councillor after 45 years in public service. Photographer:Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Today during a full council meeting, City of Cape Town speaker, Alderman Dirk Smit, announced his retirement as Speaker and councillor after 45 years in public service. Photographer:Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

PICS: Dirk Smit retires as City council speaker and councillor after 45 years service

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Cape Town - During a full council meeting on Thursday, City of Cape Town speaker, Alderman Dirk Smit, announced his retirement as Speaker and councillor after 45 years in public service.

He will be retiring effective from April 30.

Smit served as a councillor and then speaker of the City of Cape Town since March 15, 2006. He has also served as chairperson of the Salga’s Speakers’ Forum of the Western Cape, since May 2011 up until now.

Smit’s retirement was first acknowledged by Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, who delivered the opening speech at the council meeting.

Mayor Dan Plato and a few other councillors were attending the funeral of the late Alderman Monty Oliver.

“Speaker, I would like to start off by acknowledging that today will be your last day presiding over this council as the speaker of the City of Cape Town,’ Neilson said. “Please allow me to express, on behalf of the mayor and my fellow councillors, our sincerest thanks for your 15 years of dedicated service to this council and the people of Cape Town.

“I well remember the dramatic time in 2006 when you were first elected, and the signal that it gave of a sea change in the future of this City. During your time in the chair, you have conducted our council meetings with professionalism, gravitas, and flashes of humour that certainly livened up the proceedings.

“Presiding over a large multiparty council is no easy task, but yours has been a steady hand over the years, and you have managed to keep this ship on course, carefully steering us through seas both rough and smooth.

“Let us not also forget your role outside of the chamber. You have conducted that role with dignity and fairness, even in times of turmoil, and have been a steady rock of stability to the City,” Neilson said.

“I will not wish you farewell just yet, but wanted to state our appreciation for your years of service upfront.”

Smit when he was just elected speaker for the City of Cape Town in 2006. Smit became Speaker, ousting Gavin Paulse with 105 votes to 104, with one abstention. Picture: Rogan Ward/African News Agency

Dirk Smit. Picture: Bruce Sutherland/City of Cape Town.

Speaking about his retirement, Smit said that it has been a great honour and privilege to serve in his various roles, and that it was also an honour for him to visit many different municipalities across South Africa and to assist them – and particularly their respective speakers – with processes and procedures.

“I would like to express my sincerest thanks, gratitude and appreciation to every councillor for your co-operation and inputs over the years. Even though we may have had our differences or disagreements, they were never so great that we could not overcome them.

“My hope is to enjoy the remaining autumn years afforded to me with my wife and family, come May 1,“ he said.

“In terms of the process going forward, in respect of my successor, I herewith call that a Special Council meeting be held on May 21 at 10am, to be chaired by the City manager, whereby a new speaker will be elected.

“All parties will be given the opportunity to put their preferred candidate nominations forward and the matter will be put to a vote accordingly,” he said.

“I wish you and the City all the best with your future endeavours and with whatever challenges may lie ahead over the coming months.”

DA Western Cape Acting Provincial Leader, Albert Fritz also bid farewell to Smit and thanked him for his service.

“Dirk has performed his duties with distinction and he leaves behind large shoes for his predecessors to fill.

"The DA in the Western Cape wishes Dirk all the best for the future. We trust that he will enjoy spending invaluable time with his friends, family and loved ones.“

Here are pictures of Smit over the years from the Independent Media archives:

The speaker, Dirk Smit, talks to then-mayor Helen Zille after a council meeting in 2010. Picture Andrew Ingram/African News Agency (ANA Archives)

Then-mayor Patricia de Lille warns Smit with a golf club for wearing a Blue Bulls Shirt and waving a flag at the last City of Cape Town sitting in 2013. Picture Brenton Geach/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

De Lille seen being comforted by Smit in 2013. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

The city council members convened at the council chamber to find out whether the no-confidence vote in Patricia de Lille would be done in secret or be open and thereafter to vote on the council's confidence in De Lille as mayor of Cape Town. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Cape Town council speaker Dirk Smit officially welcomed Dan Plato back to the City of Cape Town by swearing him in as a councillor. Photo: ANA/Ayanda Ndamane

Cape Argus

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