Is the Democratic Alliance scared of a free Patricia de Lille?
Many political analysts predicted the departure of Jacob Zuma from the presidency would spell the end of a boon for the opposition. It’s been less than a year since he left and those predictions are coming to pass.
In fact, the roles are now reversed. While Zuma was the gift that kept on giving to the opposition, the opposition has now given the ruling party gifts that keep on giving.
As if it wasn’t enough that an agreeable and likeable Cyril Ramaphosa stepped into Zuma’s shoes, the official opposition has allowed the De Lille matter to drag on endlessly, taking away all its capacity to hit the ruling party hard over its many blunders.
The DA has allowed the perception that it’s a white party with a black figurehead to become reality in many people’s minds, particularly in how it has handled the De Lille matter.
The perception that Mmusi Maimane is not really in charge comes through in how he was allowed to stage a huge press conference in which he announced the matter had been dealt with and De Lille would walk away from the mayorship in peace at the end of October.
We are now at the end of October and a whole new chapter in this telenovela is being written, and Mmusi isn’t the author. It would seem that while he was out there singing peace, the real DA leadership was behind the scenes plotting a messy end to the saga.
That same leadership has played down the resignation of the five DA councillors from the City of Cape Town.
People resign from political parties all the time, they claim. Well, that’s true. And it would be even less significant if the resignations had happened in North West or Limpopo, but these happened in the DA’s stronghold, in the same council that has been at loggerheads with De Lille.
And the five did not go silently. They have alleged victimisation within the DA and are accusing the party of sidelining them and “reserving decision-making for white DA members”.
This accusation is not new; it’s how black people outside the DA view the party. These “white members” would be the same people who have asked law firm Bowmans to do another report with another recommendation on De Lille.
This time, the outcome of the report is a recommendation that she be criminally prosecuted for corruption, while an earlier report did not. And De Lille is claiming this second report is politically motivated.
The DA could have let Maimane’s “peace deal” with De Lille stand and moved on into election mode, but they chose not to. To an outsider, the perception is created that the DA wants to cut ties with De Lille, but leave her entangled in the court system during the election campaign for 2019.
Is the DA so afraid of a free De Lille in an election?
The bungling of Mmusi’s nomination for the premiership of the Western Cape, the unending De Lille saga, the booting out of Athol Trollip at Nelson Mandela Bay, five councillors resigning at once in the City of Cape Town and the uneasy position of Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga bear testimony to the fact that the DA has become a generous gift to an ANC that should rightly be on the back foot following their connection to the VBS saga.
Maybe someone should remind them that the 2019 poll is half a year away.