There have been a variety of reactions to the resignation of Patricia de Lille. The African National Congress says that it will negatively impact on black-owned businesses, while the African Christian Democratic Party says that the DA decision to withdraw all internal charges against her has exposed desperate attempts to get rid of her as Mayor of Cape Town “at all costs”. But the leader of the faction that wished to get rid of her says that she is being let off the hook.
In a clear indication that the knives are still out against her, mayoral committee member JP Smith said the resignation was an admission of guilt. He indicated to an ANC-supporting newspaper that at least four DA councillors were still prepared to testify against her.
However, the Mayor – who will only leave office in three months’ time, at the end of October – told 702 that: “I am not finished with them yet. I have a number of civil litigation cases lined up because people have smeared my name in public without evidence.”
The withdrawal of charges against her within the party by party leader Mmusi Maimane appears to pull the carpet from under those who have campaigned against De Lille. De Lille can act against her opponents – she said two Members of Parliament and about six councillors were in her firing line. But De Lille insisted that she was fighting “for principle and not for a position”. She was going because of all the nastiness that had been directed against her. She described this as “constant abuse”.
It is clear that one of the MPs mentioned by De Lille for targeting is Natasha Mazzone, the deputy federal chairperson, who since the withdrawal of James Selfe, the federal chair, has directed the DA’s prosecution of the Mayor. She was the party spokeswoman during the first failed disciplinary hearing within the party.
Mazzone said that the party could now regroup. De Lille would be welcome to campaign with her colleagues “and would be encouraged to”. But judging from the interviews on national televisions stations, the chances of De Lille apearing in the campaigning field for the official opposition looks decidedly unlikely.
It is quite clear that Smith – who has led the campaigns to move votes of no confidence against De Lille – is the key figure in De Lille’s sights. He told a local newspaper that those willing to testify against the Mayor were his fellow mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson and Cape Town city bowl councillor Steve Bryant.
These are some of the figures likely to be in De Lille’s firing line – for litigation – in the next few months.
It is a significant aside that it is likely that either Limberg or Neilson will emerge as the new Mayor. The DA said it would start the process of selecting a new Mayor “immediately”.
The decision to drop the internal disciplinary against De Lille puts into question the leadership of Mmusi Maimane who has said that corrupt forces would be dealt with in municipalities. Now he has praised De Lille’s work as Mayor.
In the aftermath of her resignation announcement on Sunday 5 August, De Lille has given no indication that she has taken her action in the interests of repairing damage that her removal saga has done to the reputation of the DA in the city – and, indeed, nationwide.
She has avoided questions about whether she would be canvassing for the DA in the national election of 2019. It is an indication that she will not be in the DA by then. It is likely she will be awarded with a job by another political party somewhere else. Instead of answering the question why she was resigning now – after months of holding on to the job – she simply said: “I have always maintained that I am innocent and the allegations against me have never been proven.”
City processes will continue. Investigations into allegations that De Lille irregularly meddled with tendering processes – including the foreshore redevelopment project – will play out in the coming months. As these investigations are not being carried out by the official forces, the Hawks, the allegations are likely to remain just that: allegations.
Pressed by AfroWorldview, the pro-government TV station set up by the Guptas as ANN7, De Lille was evasive about whether she would remain a DA member after October. She said she would fight to unite opposition parties and “save democracy”. Now that her name had been “cleared”, she said she would be considering her future options. She now had time to consider her future options.
It has been speculated that she has been offered a foreign posting by the ANC, but she publicly acknowledged that the DA had offered her a post as an MPL in the provincial parliament in the Western Cape. Significantly, she has not committed to the latter. After the tit-for-tat fight between De Lille and her detractors for the last 10 months, the likelihood that De Lille and the DA leadership have kissed and made up looks most unlikely.
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