That bang you heard was the DA shooting itself in the foot again
Instead of accepting the court decision to reinstate De Lille as mayor, the DA has renewed its frenzied attack on her
Natasha Mazzone doesn’t do chastened. As a graduate of the Helen Zille School of Charm and Deportment, she’s brought back a remorseless snarl to the public face of the DA.
Her press release Tuesday – after the Cape Town High Court made the legal scoreline Patricia De Lille 1, DA 0 – was straight out of the party’s Zuma-era playbook.
This time, though, the target of its furious torrent of adjectives was not an almost universally reviled ANC leader but the woman who led the DA to its first two-thirds majority.Having been handed a legal defeat — judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela granted De Lille the urgent interdict she sought, suspending the DA’s decision to rescind her membership — the decent thing for the DA to do would have been to respect the court’s decision and pledge to work with De Lille for the good of Cape Town.
But in the 10 months it has been at war with De Lille, the DA has repeatedly shot itself in the foot and Mazzone’s aim was true.
“The judgment ... is not in the best interests of the people of Cape Town. It is unfortunate that Ms de Lille continues to put her individual interests above those of the citizens of Cape Town by using legal technicalities to cling on to power,” she said.In fact, in his judgment Gamble said he was putting De Lille back in the mayor’s office because to do anything else would be damaging for Cape Town.
It could lead to “a veritable case of musical chairs in the mayoral parlour” if acting mayor Ian Neilson appointed a new mayoral committee and De Lille or her ultimate successor rang the changes again, he said.
Gamble said De Lille must undertake to subject herself to party discipline, and in her comments immediately afterwards the ex-ex-mayor pledged to do so. She gave Mazzone the perfect chance to mend fences, but the DA deputy chairwoman spurned it.
“De Lille has displayed the utmost disdain for the office that she held and the people of this city,” she said.Just a week earlier, Mazzone’s boss — federal chairperson James Selfe — apologised to Capetonians for the damage caused by the DA’s row with De Lille.
“We recognise that we will need to rebuild trust with the voters and will do our utmost best to ensure that we get back to the business of governing Cape Town,” he said.
So much for that. Mazzone thought Tuesday was the perfect opportunity to recycle all the dirt the party has been chucking at De Lille in its long-running and increasingly grubby campaign to get rid of her.
“We will not relent in our mission to put Cape Town first and ensure that maladministration and misconduct is kept out of the mayoral office,” she said.
“Her autocratic leadership style has divided the [DA] caucus and threatened their ability to perform their roles as public servants.“In true Zuma-like-style, De Lille is now clearly clinging on to power for power itself. She has long forgotten the people who have voted for the party that she once represented. She is now clearly on only one mission — to destroy anyone and anything that will seek to hold her accountable for her actions.“Unlike De Lille, the DA takes the mandate the people have given us to govern very seriously and will never take it for granted.”
Unfortunately for Mazzone, the party’s determination to deprive Cape Town of the mayor whose face was on its election posters only two years ago gives the lie to her hyperbole.
As for Bonginkosi Madikizela, the man who would be mayor, the DA’s Western Cape leader trailed Mazzone like a forlorn puppy as she wagged her finger in reporters’ faces after Tuesday’s judgment. He nodded dutifully but said nothing.
It wasn’t the best impression of a confident leader ready to join Mmusi Maimane in the war on white privilege.