THE sounds that characterise a normal day in Joburg’s inner city – hooting taxis and a ceaseless hum of energy – were muffled under a blanket of wailing police sirens on the sunny and clear morning of 22 March.

Braamfontein’s bustling streets were lined with the City’s orange and black banners, blowing in the gentle breeze and reminding passers-by that this was no ordinary day. Should they have been in danger of forgetting, the cacophony of sirens slicing through the balmy morning air would serve as ample warning: it was the official opening of the City council and Executive Mayor Parks Tau’s inaugural state of the city address.

Heralding the occasion was the mayoral cavalcade, starting from the intersection of Bertha and Jorissen streets at 10.25am. Planned and executed with military precision, the cavalcade wound its way up Jorissen Street and turned left into Loveday Street, dropping off the mayor and his wife, Pilisiwe Twala-Tau, at the Rea Vaya station outside the Metro Centre.

Dapperly dressed in a grey suit with a red tie adding a splash of colour and sophistication, Tau matched his equally dashing wife, who was kitted out in a grey polka-dot skirt suit with red trimming and buttons.

Two marching emergency management services officials led the debonair duo up to the Metro Centre piazza; an army of EMS officials, Joburg metro police officers and the South African police service marching band stood at attention to welcome the mayoral party. Immaculately pressed and starched uniforms stood out in the stark sunlight as proud officials waited for orders to give a general salute.

Silence descended when it was time for the mayor and City manager, Trevor Fowler, to lay wreaths in memory of EMS and police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. A mood of solemnity took hold as the wreaths were laid, and both Fowler and Tau bowed their heads and saluted the deceased.

Taking their designated places, the mayoral procession marched towards the Council Chambers. They were met by the Student Council Guard of Honour, where Tau and his wife took a few minutes to chat and laugh with the young members.

It was then time to get down to business, and the party moved into the chamber.

The mayor’s state of the city marks the start of the City’s year, and enables reflection on past achievements and looks at plans for the current year. In his inaugural speech, it was expected that Tau would focus on the City’s integrated waste management plan, infrastructure projects and plans to merge several of the City’s institutions.

Progress on the City’s billing roadmap and Growth and Development Strategy, Joburg 2040, were also expected to be in the spotlight.