Outgoing mayor of the Western Cape Dan Plato during a one-on-one; interview. Picture: Neil Baynes

With a week until his term ends, outgoing executive mayor Dan Plato has no regrets and insists he is, and will always be, his own man.

On opposition assertions that he had been micro-managed and received his orders from party leader Helen Zille, Plato said not once did the DA’s leadership tell him what to do.

“I am my own man. Jacob Zuma often came to see (former ANC mayor) Nomaindia Mfeketo. He was always in her office. The DA (leadership) is never in my office,” Plato said.

He passes the baton to mayor-elect Patricia de Lille next Wednesday when she is sworn in at the new council’s first meeting. Plato wouldn’t say where he would be going, only that he remained an ordinary councillor.

The Cape Times caught up with Plato at a coffee shop at the V&A Waterfront where he reflected on his brief two-year stint as mayor, outlining his highlights and some low points.

“I had a wonderful two years and I’m very honoured. I salute (De Lille). I congratulate her and also I think we put up a good show as a party to win the elections. ANC crashed and they were demolished.”

On the Makhaza open toilet issue, which ended up in the Western Cape High Court, and the infamous Blikkiesdorp which also received a lot of media attention, Plato said he had no regrets and the city did its best in both situations.

“I’m not shy and afraid to talk about Blikkiesdorp. We had no choice. I will defend the decision of mine to the teeth. It was the only viable option. I agree with the criticism that it’s not ideal, but at least they have a roof over their heads,” Plato said.

Although he had a few nice words to say about newly elected ANC councillor Andile Lili, who successfully took the city to court on the toilet issue, he said Lili was very economical with the truth.

Plato said he respected Judge Nathan Erasmus’s recent judgment that the city should enclose the toilets.

He said the ANC Youth League and Lili, who was part of the discussions to enclose the toilets, were all liars.

He said it was strange how Lili and his colleagues were running around like “madmen in Makhaza”, but now found themselves as councillors and “part of the establishment”.

“Lili was part of the negotiations. At the end of the day, they knew they lied to us. They said we are happy, come and enclose them. It’s almost as if they wanted to lead us into a trap. But the lesson is to never again build open toilets,” Plato said.

He listed some of the highlights of his administration: hosting the World Cup; Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ best run city in South Africa accolade; rated top in providing basic services; rated South Africa’s number one tourist destination; and the Auditor-General award for good governance and accountability.

And the low points?

“I need to be frank on the negatives. We didn’t use the housing budget enough. We still have a 400 000 waiting list. And racial divisions are still rife.

“The DA tried its best and continues to do more.” - Cape Times

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