It was a day of pomp, ceremony and feasting as Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau delivered the State of the City Address, setting an optimistic tone for the year ahead.
From early in the morning, the South African Police Service brass band was on song as they blew their trumpets, marching in rhythm, accompanied by their counterparts from the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and the Emergency Management Service (EMS) outside the Metro Centre to remember their fallen colleagues.
The mood was sombre as the Mayor Tau, accompanied by his wife, Philisiwe Twala-Tau, laid a wreath in memory of JMPD and EMS personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Riding in Rea Vaya buses, the mayor and his entourage then made their way to Orlando East, where the State of the City Address was delivered – the first time that the speech was delivered in Soweto.
Sowetans came out in numbers to welcome the mayor's entourage and to take part in the festivities. At the Orlando Communal Hall, more than 800 guests chanted struggle songs, ululated and cheered to welcome the visitors. City councilors, elegantly dressed in the colours of the national flag, added colour to the proceedings.
The Speaker of Council, Councillor Connie Bapela, opened Council and welcomed all the guests, saying the fact that the State of the City Address is taking place in April brings mixed feelings for a democratic state. She recalled the execution of Solomon Mahlangu on 6 April 1979, saying it brings back sad memories.
"On the 27 of April 2014 we mark the 20th anniversary of our hard earned democracy. In the remaining 24 days, allow me to encourage all councillors with different attitudes to have political tolerance towards one another," concluded Bapela.
The executive mayor stirred emotions when he opened his address by paying tribute to Joburg as "a City at work".
He described Johannesburg as the most dynamic city in South Africa, "a city at work that is re-stitching itself through the Corridors of Freedom. This is the city that is shaping its future as a sustainable, liveable and a resilient city.
A city that cares for its people and the future".
The mayor also hailed Soweto as a township with a rich history, adding that "it is no coincidence that it continues to make history by hosting the State of the City Address for the first time".
The mayor painted a bright future for the City of Johannesburg. "The City is financially in the best shape yet with a net surplus of R3.4 billion at the end June 2013. We continued the upward trend of increasing, the City's total assets to R60.1 billion up from R56.37 billion in 2011/12. We concluded the year with a progressive increase in cash and cash equivalents of R5.4 billion."
This announcement was met with loud applause.
The executive mayor also announced the completion of the broadband roll out and the fact that the WI-FI has gone live. "Wi-Fi has gone live from today, right here, as we speak, in the Orlando Communal Hall and at the following nine Rea Vaya stations: Orlando Stadium and Police Station, Soccer City, Noordgesig, Joburg Theatre, Park Station, Art Gallery, Carlton Centre and Fashion Square," added the mayor.
The mayor's speech was received with clapping, cheering and more singing.
Opposition parties will have a chance to respond to the speech during the debate in the Council Chambers on Thursday 17 April.
State of the City Address 2014 Speech