Cape Town - Former Cape Town mayor Dan Plato made a low key return to the provincial legislature on Tuesday at a brief ceremony at noon in Speaker Masizole Mnqasela’s boardroom.
The ceremony was conducted by the Speaker and witnessed by the chief whip Mireille Wenger (DA) and officials of the legislature.
Despite rumours in political circles that he was headed for the provincial executive committee, Plato will just be an ordinary member of the legislature. Premier Alan Winde’s office quashed speculation in a curt statement by his spokesperson Cayla Murray.
“The premier currently has no intention to change the composition of his Executive Council, and there are no vacancies. The premier congratulates Dan Plato on his swearing in as a Member of the Provincial Legislature.”
Wenger said Plato was being welcomed back to the legislature as a key member of the DA team to assist in conducting oversight of the executive, and to take part in law making and public participation efforts.
“As a seasoned politician, with more than two decades of experience, Plato will add immense value to our work in delivering increased jobs, safety and dignity across the Western Cape and work in the best interest of all residents.”
Plato said he was “glad to be back home” and that he had no regrets about leaving the City.
Saying he was a jack of all trades and had no preferences for any particular committee as he could fit in wherever he was required to, he said he would for the chief whip to deploy him.
Plato’s return to the legislature was no surprise following the provincial DA’s announcement in December last year he would be coming back to fill the vacant seat left by former provincial leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela.
This is Plato’s second time around in the legislature.
He served as Community Safety MEC from June 2011 to November 2018 when he was deployed by the DA to take over from Patricia De Lille as mayor after she lost her DA party membership.
Between 2009 and 2011 Plato served his first stint as Mayor of Cape Town after he succeeded Helen Zille who went on to become premier.
Opposition members of the legislature all seemed to think that Plato would not languish on the backbenches for long.
Leader of the opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC) said he saw Plato’s return to the legislature as a demotion.
“It seems that he should have accepted the offer to return to the legislature as an MEC in 2021 in return for withdrawing from the mayoral contest.
“As the ANC we welcome him back to the legislature and appeal to him to take his oversight role seriously should he remain an ordinary MPL.
“Only time will tell whether Premier Winde appoints Plato into the cabinet or leaves him on the back benches.”
Good party MPL Brett Herron said: “The DA have kept a seat in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament vacant since April last year when Bonginkosi Madikizela resigned over fake degrees and lying to parliament.
“It was always clear to me that the party had decided insider Hill-Lewis would be their mayoral candidate and they were holding that seat for Dan Plato.
“If Premier Winde is instructed to appoint Plato to the cabinet he should make some other changes to implement his government of integrity promise, and to clear out some non-performers.”
FF Plus MPL Peter Marais, himself a former premier and ex-DA mayor of Cape Town said Plato would improve the quality of debate from DA benches.
“Hopefully he will regain his stripes by being promoted to committee chairperson or even MEC for Local Government.
“Coloured mayors in the Cape Metro under the DA are treated as part time useful vote catchers during elections.