A hard De Lille to swallow as her fight with DA roars on
Cape Town mayor pulls no punches in open letter to senior DA member as the fight turns, somehow, even uglier
If you thought the mudslinging in the DA might stop – or even slow down – after a court restored Patricia de Lille’s party membership, you couldn’t have been more wrong.
Not only has the mudslinging continued, it’s done so very, very publicly.
The Cape Town mayor backed down not one iota in a scathing open letter published on Thursday – a letter in which she ripped into DA Federal Council deputy chairperson Natasha Mazzone.
At the very start of the letter she labelled Mazzone “the latest appointed scripted spokesperson tasked with smearing my name on the DA’s behalf” – a comment that set the tone for what was to come.
“Like all previous scripted spokespersons, my advice to you is to read and understand your script, before you so eagerly do interviews. You would be wise to heed my advice,” she said.Mazzone hit back, saying that she believed De Lille’s modus operandi of lashing out, bullying and intimidating those who “speak up against [her] actions” was what led to her caucus losing confidence in her.
“I wish to point out that I represent the party not as a spokesperson, but rather as one of the deputy chairpersons of the federal council,” she said on Thursday evening in a media statement sent to Times Select.
The Cape Town High Court was set to hear De Lille’s application on Thursday to compel the DA to provide her and her legal team with all the evidence the commission headed by party chief whip John Steenhuisen relied on when it made damning findings against her last year. The party used the report as its basis for disciplinary action against De Lille.
The report accused her of interfering with the appointment of the municipal manager by sending an SMS to a member of the interview panel which read: “I want to keep Achmat so score him highest. Thanks.”
This was allegedly in reference to former municipal manager Achmat Ebrahim.
It also accuses De Lille, among other things, of doling out patronage and protection to controversial Ses’Khona leader Loyiso Nkohla, who, until he was suspended in June, was the city’s community liaison officer.Mazzone said she wanted De Lille to answer questions she has allegedly “consistency dodged”, including if she sent the controversial SMS.
“While your focus is on personal and vitriolic attacks, we continue to do what we were elected to do. No one person is bigger than the people we are elected to serve,” she said.
This exchange came hot on the heels of a court ruling on Wednesday that De Lille’s party membership must be reinstated. This after she successfully challenged the constitutionality of the party’s so-called “cessation clause” which the DA used to end her membership last month.
She wants the party to pay her legal fees in the case.
De Lille said earlier on Thursday: “The DA must pay the costs and it’s over R1-million already. I have invested [money in the matter] because my name‚ my integrity‚ is priceless. But now the money will come back because the DA must pay for all the cases.”
De Lille said in her open letter that Mazzone’s knowledge of her case was “seriously lacking”.
“I am therefore taking it upon myself to brief you and bring you up to speed, since no one in the DA appears to have done so.”
De Lille said the “very problem with the way that” Mazzone was conducting herself was by “mindlessly repeating” accusations.“Simply repeating what you have heard, doesn’t make it true. Yet, here you are, rather mindlessly repeating the accusation without any evidence or context.”De Lille added she is preparing a civil suit for defamation against Mazzone for comments in a press release.
“It is disgusting that you attack the judiciary. Please leave my Advocate Dali Mpofu SC alone, because the court has just ordered the DA pay for his services.”
De Lille even took a jab in signing off her open letter with the words: “All the best.”