PICS: Sol Plaatje Municipality’s youngest mayor sworn in

By Sandi Kwon Hoo Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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Kimberley - Twenty-six-year-old Sol Plaatje University lecturer and Masters of Economics student Kagisho Dante Sonyoni was sworn in as the new Sol Plaatje Municipality executive mayor on Tuesday.

Tyres were set alight outside the Kimberley City Hall before councillors were inaugurated on Tuesday.

The protesters said that they were from Riemvasmaak and they were without electricity.

“The same ANC councillor was re-elected in our ward and, sorry to say, he is useless,” said the protesters.

EFF councillor Poncho Mocwana objected to the Ward 16 ANC councillor being sworn in.

“He is alleged to have five different identity documents with five different names and six interdicts relating to gender-based violence. These allegations should not be taken lightly. Let us deal with it before he is sworn in and give him an opportunity to defend himself,” said Mocwana.

The Sol Plaatje municipal manager, Goolam Akharwaray, pointed out that the inauguration ceremony was not the correct platform to deal with this matter.

In his inaugural speech, Sonyoni urged the newly elected councillors to put aside their personal and political interests.

“I wish to implore and challenge all councillors not to use matters of service delivery to our people as a political tool with which to score cheap political mileage,” said Sonyoni.

“While I may have been given the honour of leading this institution, it is only through working together in a collaborative manner that we can achieve meaningful success as an institution and overcome obstacles that may be thrown our way.

“Through the oath, we have all committed to being of service to the people of the municipality, to put their interests first and to ensure that we abide by the laws of the country and to protect its Constitution.”

He pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic had eroded the economy and had left a trail of poverty and unemployment.

“The scourge of the pandemic has eroded sectors of our economy, taking with them many jobs and leaving our people without any source of income and thus unable to pay for services provided by the municipality.

“The duty that rests on the shoulders of this council is to reverse these economic losses and ensure that we bring about much needed developments in the municipality.”

Sonyoni highlighted priority areas that needed to be addressed, including infrastructure development programmes with a focus on water and sanitation, attracting investment, upholding clean and accountable leadership, making the municipality financially sustainable and providing communities with safe environments and the necessary amenities.

The outgoing Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Patrick Mabilo, believed that the new mayor would inspire youths to further their education.

“He will be a role-model for young people. I hand over the baton without any bitterness, where I have left him with a solid foundation. I hope that he will continue with the mega projects that I was not able to see through to finalisation during my tenure, which will bring about employment, investment and growth,” said Mabilo.

He pointed out that with the return of the municipal manager, Akharwaray, and the chief financial officer, Lydia Mahloko, the new mayor would start on a good footing.

“While the municipality is not in a good financial space, these officials will ensure good governance, ensure the generation of revenue and restore the credibility of the organisation.”

Outgoing mayor Patrick Mabilo with newly-elected mayor Kagisho Dante Sonyoni. Picture: Soraya Crowie /African News Agency (ANA)

Premier Zamani Saul called upon all councillors to be held accountable.

“We have a mayor who is young and vibrant – he is the youngest mayor in the history of the city. Let us not be petty in executing our tasks or create unnecessary fights and end up with unnecessary challenges. Councillors must do everything in their power to improve the quality of life and look beyond their political affiliations,” said Saul.

He was mindful of the water, sanitation, roads, electricity and socio-economic challenges that Sol Plaatje Municipality is facing.

“The majority of residents are not happy with services. When Sol Plaatje Municipality can’t take the heat, it gets directed to my office and I have to remind them that I am not Sol Plaatje Municipality.”

The newly elected Speaker, Nomizizi Maputle, received 37 votes compared to Wesley van Rooyen from the DA with 16 votes and Dennis Pienaar from the Sol Plaatje Service Delivery Forum who received three votes.

Newly elected Sol Plaatje Speaker Nomizizi Maputle. Picture: Soraya Crowie/African News Agency (ANA)

Maputle committed to providing quality services to the masses.

“Council has a duty to deliver quality services to better the lives of our people and establish stability. There are many mountains for us to climb and rivers to cross but there is no time to become comfortable,” said Maputle.

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