Aunty Pat: What we know vs what we believe
In the absence of facts, here is what we believe about the Patricia de Lille saga
Here is what we know for sure about the Patricia de Lille saga in Cape Town.
1. There exists a person named Patricia de Lille who is, at the moment, the mayor of Cape Town.
2. There is a political party named the Democratic Alliance that does not want De Lille to be mayor any more.
And that’s it. I’m sure some people know more, perhaps a few dozen politicians and lawyers. But anyone beyond that group who claims to know that De Lille is either corrupt or the victim of a racist conspiracy is talking out of their hat and are, in most likelihood, either a bored fool on Twitter or a columnist trying to pay the rent.
I don’t know who is lying and who is telling the truth.And so, in the absence of facts, here is what I believe:
1. The only people connected to the power struggles in Cape Town who know what they’re doing are the lawyers representing both sides. They know exactly what they’re doing, and what they’re doing is getting paid. A lot.
2. If the DA fought poverty as hard as it has fought De Lille, we'd have 0% unemployment in the Western Cape.
3. If the DA fought poverty as well as it has fought De Lille, we'd have 100% unemployment in the Western Cape.
4. Politics is perception. Refusing to answer a question about a mystery SMS might be De Lille’s right, but it is also clumsy PR. The least she could do is sell us a line about due process or legal red tape.
5. The DA is letting this fiasco drag on because it believes it can’t lose the Western Cape and won’t lose significant support in a national election, thanks in both cases to the incomparably bad governance record of the ANC.And to be fair, you can understand that view: however dirty and messy the De Lille saga is, it dwindles to almost microscopic proportions when compared to, for example, the total collapse of most of South Africa’s municipalities outside the Western Cape and that little thing called state capture. The ANC in the Western Cape is also a genuinely pathetic entity, reduced to little more than a few activists in a caravan, colouring in hand-drawn posters of motivational Facebook updates by Cameron Dugmore. In other words, the DA knows it can still get quite a lot worse before the majority of Western Capers start looking elsewhere.
This is lucky for the DA because :
6. There is no visible leadership in the DA. It gets things done in municipalities and the courts because it has a strong core of bureaucrats and policy wonks, but of inspiring, symbolic, charismatic national leadership there is no sign whatsoever. Mmusi Maimane is AWOL. Seriously, if you've seen him, please alert the police.
Even Mosiuoa Lekota was more visible this week, getting up Julius Malema’s nose in the land expropriation testimonies. Lekota represents 123,000 South Africa. Mmusi Maimane represents four million.Well, at the moment: unless he starts raining down hellfire in Cape Town and making it clear that he had had it with these mother%^&@# snakes on this mother%^&@# plane, he will be representing three million come next year.
It is all well and good to spend your days lambasting other political parties. It is unimaginative but fairly conventional electioneering. But when your flagship city in your flagship province has degenerated into a kindergarten and your voters are so gatvol that they’re talking seriously about the ANC, you need to act.
Even if it’s just an act. Do something.
The damage, however, has been done. Even if De Lille is proved to be as guilty as sin and the DA is entirely exonerated, one perception will remain, carved in stone: that the self-proclaimed champion of good governance didn't have a clue how to deal with just one unhappy citizen.
So how, exactly, will it deal with the other 55 million?