City of Cape Town's Speaker retires

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Dirk Smit, Speaker in the City of Cape Town: Photo: Malherbe Nienaber
Dirk Smit, Speaker in the City of Cape Town: Photo: Malherbe Nienaber
Photo: Malherbe Nienaber
  • The Speaker of the City of Cape Town's council is retiring.  
  • Dirk Smit retires after 45 years in public service and many dramatic developments in the composition of the council. 
  • A new Speaker will be elected on 21 May.  

The Speaker of the City of Cape Town's council, Dirk Smit, is retiring. 

Smit retires after 45 years in public service, marked by many dramatic events, including the departure of former mayor Patricia De Lille.

De Lille left the council and the DA during a period of turmoil and animosity, and went off to form the GOOD party and is now the Minister of Public Works.  

"Even though we may have had our differences or disagreements, they were never so great that we could not overcome them," Smit said in a statement. 

Smit, 75, told News24 that he plans to catch up on family time, such as watching his grandchildren play rugby and netball, and to travel locally with his wife Elna.

Smit was also the chairperson of the SA Local Government's Speaker's Forum of the Western Cape, since May 2011.  

His retirement comes amid a possible change in the mayor's office, and after one of the potential candidates in the running for the position, Bonginkosi Madikizela, having resigned as DA Western Cape leader over a qualifications scandal.  

READ | Bonginkosi Madikizela resigns as DA Western Cape leader

That would leave MP Geordin Hill-Lewis from the majority party in the province, up against the current mayor Dan Plato.  

Smit has seen mayors come and go and describes Plato's mayorship as a "smooth" period in the history of the council. 

It was not always so, with the Erasmus Commission and the Bowman's Report probing alleged irregularities, coalitions, and factions, among the road markers of his career. 

The job of a Speaker in a council is to make sure procedures are correctly followed, and to mediate debate. 

Amid the heated exchanges, there were also times when a fine grasp of Cape Town's fast dialect of quips, humour and barbs were required to get parties to keep working together.

He said he also leaves with no councillor having a municipal bill that is more than three months old, and all traffic fines up to date.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson thanked Smit for his "professionalism, gravitas, and flashes of humour".  

"Presiding over a large multi-party 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."

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