'Get Cape Town Back on Track': Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis Marks 100 Days in Office

Photo via Geordin Hill-Lewis/Twitter

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis reached a milestone of 100 days in office on Saturday. Cape town’s youngest mayor in the democratic era reflected on his accomplishments during that time and shared some new policy goals for the rest of his term. 

It is often said a politicians most impactful time is their first 100 days in office. It is believed during that span is when they have the most support from the opposition party and the public overall. For Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, the centennial landmark came on Saturday.

Hill-Lewis replaced long time mayor Dan Plato. Plato served two inconsecutive terms, once from 2009 until 2011 and again from 2011 until 2018.

So, for many people, Hill-Lewis, the youngest mayor ever to represent Cape Town, represents the first major change in leadership in more than a decade. 

The mayor struck an optimistic tone as he reflected on the 100-day mark in a speech last week. He said the beginning of his term was aimed at revitalizing Cape Town following the pain of the pandemic.

“We have used the past 100 days in office, our first 100 days, to get Cape Town back on track," Hill-Lewis said. "We have done so guided by a spirit of caring for our fellow residents, caring about their dignity, and caring about the opportunities they have to lead happier, safer and more prosperous lives.”

Hill-Lewis said the City of Cape Town can help spark national economic redevelopment efforts in the wake of the pandemic. As the former Shadow Minister of Finance, he said economics remain top priority for the city. 

The mayor said he believes Cape Town’s decline can be renewed by spurring the local economy, which is done through increasing capital investments.

“I have made my expectations clear: we will spend significantly more on capital investment in the coming five years, particularly on sewer, water, public transport and electricity infrastructure,” Hill-Lewis said.

Despite concerns over lackluster spending, Hill-Lewis said he is proud of the way Capetonians have remained resilient throughout the crises they have been forced to endure. That includes a cable fire, the parliament fire, the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and major hits to the tourism industry.

“These unexpected events have only buttressed and supported our efforts to position Cape Town as the exemplar of the best of what we South Africans can do," Hill-Lewis said. "Although they have been stressful and even tragic, these events have given me insight — early on — into the significance of the role into which I have been elected.”

That role, as the leader of Cape Town, has come with challenges in all sectors, especially energy. Hill-Lewis said it was unacceptable for South Africa’s development to bend to the will of Eskom. 

He said his focus on the future would be on improving the energy independence of Cape Town through independent power producers.

“I have said that we simply cannot continue to wait for an increasingly disintegrating national state to sort this out," Hill-Lewis said. "Our lack of energy security is an economic emergency.”

Last month, the mayor announced The City of Cape Town is launching a new campaign aimed at improving the city's capacity for solar power. The effort could produce as much as 300 megawatts of renewable energy.

Another infrastructure issue faced by the city is sewer issues. Water supplies across the city have been contaminated by blockages, leaks and pollution in the sewage pipes. Hill-Lewis has attempted to combat this issue with his Clean Up Cape Town campaign, which is a volunteer program to reduce the harms of littering and dumping on public lands.

“Our recently launched city-wide spring clean campaign has already seen communities from all over Cape Town come forward and start doing their own clean ups," Hill-Lewis said. "The idea behind this volunteering-focused program is simple. We can foster a spirit of community pride and mutual respect in Cape Town, and that starts with getting together to clean up our city home.”

Hill-Lewis said the Clean Up campaign has been one of the highlights of his time in office. 

He touched on several other issues during his speech including homelessness, transportation and safety. The overall point on all these issues was clear, Hill-Lewis believes the city has made progress but there is still a long way to go.

These first 100 days have put us firmly on that path," Hill-Lewis said. "We have made a good start. But it is just a start. All of the hard work lies ahead, as does the opportunity to do something really important for Cape Town, and for South Africa.”

By Ben Rappaport


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