As embattled Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille fights for her reinstatement in the Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape High Court, former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said he doubted that the party could kiss and make up with her
Leon, who led the party until 2006 and was a parliamentary colleague of De Lille who was then an MP and leader of the Independent Democrats, said the De Lille matter had simply dragged on and on. “The De Lille saga goes on and on,” he said.
Leon, who led the Democratic Alliance from its inception in 2000 until 2007, said he was leader when the party decided to remove Peter Marais as Mayor of Cape Town. Leon had to lead the charge against the then mayor – who then went on to become Premier of the Western Cape.
Without revisiting the merits of this Marais case, he said the DA was bruised by the Marais axing. “It took nine years to get (the DA) back to where it was. These things do not leave you without scars and damage,” he said, referring to the act of removing a high profile mayor.
Marais was dismissed in October 2001 for – as the DA put it – “his failure of political leadership in Cape Town, not for contravening any code or law.” The Marais debacle ended up with the New National Party withdrawing from the DA and forming city and provincial governments in alliance with the ANC.
But it had to be recalled that the axing of Marais had been swift. It was all carried out within a month, said Leon. “This… started and ended in one month.” But a lot of damage had been done which lingered on.
He said the problem with the De Lille case was that even to sympathetic supporters of the DA, it was “still unclear” what the grounds are of the case against De Lille. “The facts keep on changing.” he said, noting that the attempt to remove De Lille had taken nine, nearly 10 months.
If one had a strategy one had to stick to it, he had learnt. If she was accused of malfeasance and the city administration had been compromised, that is the accusation that must consistently be pressed. There could not be chopping and changing of the plot.
Pressed on whether he thought the party bosses – including current leader Mmusi Maimane – could “kiss and make up” with De Lille, he said it was unlikely now. If one kissed and made up now – nine months later …“ what does it say about what you have been saying for nine months?” he asked. “It is difficult to see how you go back to that…”
De Lille was back on Monday in the Western Cape High Court to argue against the rescinding of her membership of the DA. In the interim the court ruled that she was back in her post as mayor. De Lille has applied for the court to review the decision to cease her party membership.
TimesLive reported that De Lille was upbeat that she would get to wear her blue DA T-shirt once again.
De Lille was axed as Mayor last month. The DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe, said the mayor’s announcement during an interview with Radio 702 host Eusebius McKaiser that she would “walk away” from the DA once her name was cleared, was grounds for the rescinding of her party membership – and thus she had ceased to be mayor.