A major shake-up is on the cards in the DA caucus as the party’s member of Parliament and finance spokesperson Geordin Hill-Lewis has thrown his hat in the ring for consideration as Cape Town mayor.
In a letter to DA councillors, which City Press has seen, Hill-Lewis said that he admired the work that ward representatives do.
His letter, which coincided with the release of mayor Dan Plato’s draft budget, comes as the party is in the process of selecting candidates for the upcoming local government elections, scheduled for later this year.
Hill-Lewis is seen as a close ally of DA chairperson Helen Zille, having been her chief of staff when she was party leader.
He later held the same role for Mmusi Maimane but insiders say he has always been seen as Zille’s “eyes and ears”.
Hill-Lewis has recently been part of the main team around party leader John Steenhuisen.
His consistent and vocal criticism of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and the ANC’s handling of the country’s economy has made him one of the DA’s most visible national figures.
Interestingly, Plato’s 2021/22 draft budget has not been well received after he proposed a 0% pay rise for Cape Town staff while saying that job losses were on the horizon.
“I am filled with admiration for the work that you do, representing the DA in wards and communities across our great city. You are the engine that makes the city work, so I wanted you to hear directly from me: I am running to be the DA’s mayoral candidate for Cape Town … Cape Town is an extraordinary place, rich with history, cultural diversity and natural beauty.
“And the DA has shown here that clean, efficient government is possible in South Africa. We already have much to be proud of. I am running for mayor because I believe I have the passion, drive and courage to realise the vision we all share that Cape Town can be so much more than it already is,” he wrote.
Hill-Lewis told the city caucus that Cape Town could be a city “at the cutting edge of innovation and technology – more dynamic, more inspiring, more youthful, more successful – taking its place among the great cities of the world”.
“My offer to the residents of Cape Town is the courage and clear vision for all of us to take our city’s power back from the national government.”
Hill-Lewis also shared a video of himself announcing his candidature in an unidentified township in which he says the city’s best days are ahead of it and that “business as usual is not going to cut it”.
“[Cape Town is] A city that really gets the basics right, leaving no community behind and is committed to improving the lives of those living in poverty. We have done so much, and we still have so much more to do. We all agree that Cape Town should stand as a model of the best of South Africa and the best of the DA too.
“To do so, we must have leadership in the city with the courage and determination to drive this clear vision. This leadership must be bold enough to drive change through the city bureaucracy and focused enough to test all the limits of devolution. Some might say let’s stick to ‘business as usual’. But we know that national government’s financial crisis will cut across every sphere of government and in every service area,” he said.
“As the DA’s shadow minister for finance, I have a deep understanding of national economics and finances and Cape Town’s place in them. I will use these skills to focus Cape Town’s resources on securing a future for all,” reads the letter.
It is not clear whether Plato intends running for a full term when the local government elections are held.
He took over the mayorship after Patricia De Lillie fell out with DA leaders and left to form her own party Good.