City of Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Cape Town - The new City of Cape Town council got straight down to business with the re-election of Dirk Smit and Patricia de Lille to the positions of Speaker and Mayor respectively on Thursday.
De Lille was elected opposite ANC candidate Xolani Sotashe.
Before the votes, the ballot boxes were held high to prove that they were empty, and after the vote, some party representatives opted to stand next to the counters to make sure everything was above board.
Earlier, Economic Freedom Fighters councillor Andrew Arnolds, in the red overall the party usually wears in Parliament, made the party's debut interjection by asking how many candidates could be nominated per party.
Arnolds said he was asking because the DA seemed to be not happy with its candidate.
This set off an uproar in the chamber, with DA councillors shouting ''We are happy!'', while Arnolds grinned.
Arnolds was previously with the African Christian Democratic Party and a deputy mayor.
Many of the councillors have a long political genealogy, including De Lille, who has been in the Pan Africanist Congress, and the leader of the Independent Democrats.
Some of the new councillors brought proud parents and partners for the special occasion at the City of Cape Town's Civic Centre and they waved and took pictures from the public gallery.
Also spotted in the public gallery were DA leader Mmusi Maimane, whose party scooped the majority in the council with 66.61% of the vote in last week's municipal elections.
He was sitting next to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Tony Leon, both previous DA leaders.
''It's good to be back at this podium,'' said De Lille, after receiving the mayoral chain.
Two hundred and twenty five ballot papers were handed out and on the count, De Lille got 160, Sotashe 56 and nine were spoilt.
''Achieving a two thirds majority is a remarkable feeling,'' said De Lille.
The past local government election had showed that a new era of democracy had been defined, she continued.
She acknowledged Maimane in the public gallery, and said he had told her to ''vat alles'' [take everything] and they almost did, but ''had to leave something to the opposition''.
De Lille pledged to spend 67% of the city's budget on the poor, and would redress the imbalances of the past.
This included retrofitting ceilings in government housing, and giving title deeds and property ownership to people, as well as providing sanitation and basic services to informal settlements.
She appealed to the opposition to work constructively with the new council.
''We may be political adversaries but we need not be enemies.''
She also appealed to the media to stop presenting a picture of a racially-divided city.
''It takes a broad cross-section of race, gender, age, class and sexual orientation to reach a two thirds majority,'' said De Lille.
She thanked the leadership of the city, and the 27,000 people who work for the City of Cape Town, as well as her family and her sisters.
She became emotional when she also thanked her late mother Gertrude Lindt who died in Beaufort West in the final weeks of the campaign.
At the end of the speech she received a standing ovation from the DA caucus, with most of the opposition sitting and watching.
In response, Sotashe congratulated the DA for winning the lengthy marathon election and campaign.
''We are committing ourselves as ANC to play our role of official opposition in the City of Cape Town,'' said Sotashe.
''We will give credit where it is due, but we will agree to disagree.''
''We are not going to be cowboys, to do street fighting, but we will come here as democrats.''
''We are not going to keep quiet when people in Barcelona are still demanding services.''
Smit was voted Speaker with 157 votes, while Mngxunyeni drew 57 votes. Ten ballot papers were spoilt in that election.
See the results of last week's election here.
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