New ID for De Lille? Maybe not, but she could be a coalition queen
She has the political chops and the experience, but former Cape Town mayor isn't saying anything new, says an analyst
If former Cape Town Patricia de Lille opens her mouth about corruption she will be painting her new party with the same brush she used to smear her political opponents more than a decade ago.
This was political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni’s opinion following De Lille’s announcement in Cape Town on Sunday that she would start a new political party.
De Lille is challenging the outcomes of a 10-month investigation by law firm Bowmans Gilfillan into the Cape Town transport authority, which recommended that De Lille be reported to the police for allegedly attempting to prevent former city manager Achmat Ebrahim from fulfilling his legal duty to tell the council about allegations of misconduct against transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead.
Council speaker Dirk Smit laid criminal charges against De Lille and Brett Heron, a former councillor, at the Cape Town police station last month. On Friday, Cape Town councillors Xanthea Limberg and Angus McKenzie also laid criminal charges against De Lille.
Limberg claims De Lille tried to interfere with Ebrahim’s appointment two years ago. Limberg was a member of the interview panel and De Lille allegedly SMSed her: “I want to keep Achmat so score him highest. Thanks.”
Fikeni said that each time De Lille spoke about corruption the DA would say: “Wait, we still have a case against you. There will be a counterweight for that claim.”
De Lille was very vocal about corruption over the infamous arms deal when she was leader of the Independent Democrats and as an MP.
Fikeni said her yet-to-be-launched political party brought nothing new to the table, although she might have bargaining power by getting into coalitions.
“The only thing she has is a national profile, she has a provincial profile and she has constituency,” said Fikeni.
“She won’t be starting like your Agang; she is seasoned and she has survived way too many battles. From the unions to the PAC [Pan Africanist Congress], from the PAC to ID and from the ID to the DA. That already sets her apart – but she won’t be a big party.”
‘Malice and hate’
De Lille said on Sunday the bad blood between her and the DA was motivated by malice and hate, but DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela described De Lille’s accusation as “nothing new”.
“I must take the opportunity and wish De Lille well in the new journey that she’s embarking on. We had our differences, but that’s all in the past. My focus now is on our campaign and service delivery for the people of Cape Town and the Western Cape,” said Madikizela.
“As for allegations from her, they are not new. We’ve noted what she said about the DA at her press conference, but we can’t be drawn into a fight with her. We will continue to hold our members accountable irrespective of their profile in the party and society.”
De Lille resigned as mayor and as a DA member last month.
She said she endured the most vile and relentless dirty tricks campaign to get rid of her over the past 18 months. It was at the height of her campaign to correct the apartheid spatial planning that a “DA cabal” had ganged up on her.
“The attack on my character, reputation and values by the DA cabal is nothing like I have ever experienced ,” she said. “It became clear that the project Helen Zille and I agreed on in 2010, to create a viable alternative to the ANC, was no longer underpinned by the values I believe in and on which the DA campaigned. The DA used me and abused me. I was in an abusive relationship and the abuser could not be rehabilitated.”
De Lille said she would be launching the party – which has not yet been named and which will contest the 2019 general election in all nine provinces – in January. She did not reveal much about it, but said: “I intend to use my experience in leading one of the greatest cities in the world for the good of our nation and our provinces.”
However, Fikeni said De Lille’s utterances were all too familiar.