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De Lille hits back at DA’s Mazzone, calls her ‘clueless’

By News24 29 June 2018
Caption
Mayor Patricia de Lille arrives at Marks Building, Parliament for her disciplinary hearing. 22 March 2018. Photo by Leila Dougan

The battle between Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and the Democratic Alliance is getting uglier, with De Lille slamming the party's Natasha Mazzone as "clueless".

Mazzone has hit back, accusing De Lille of bullying tactics and of intimidating those who speak against her.

De Lille took offence to some of Mazzone’s statements on Wednesday after the mayor’s court victory against the party. Mazzone is the party’s second deputy federal council chairperson.

The mayor was further frustrated on Thursday after her review of the party’s internal “Steenhuisen report” into her conduct was postponed to November. The DA is refusing to submit evidence De Lille has requested.

“I am writing to you, as the latest appointed scripted spokesperson tasked with smearing my name on the DA’s behalf,” De Lille said in an open letter to Mazzone on Thursday.

“I note, from your interviews and written communication pertaining to this matter, that your knowledge of my case is 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.

“You have been repeating that I ‘breached the Code of Conduct for Councillors as well as the constitution of the DA, had brought the DA into disrepute, and breached the conditions of my suspension’.

“You also say that I am being charged for corruption, when there is not a single corruption charge against me. I have literally spent the past seven months waiting for the evidence of these transgressions, including today, where the DA failed to produce said evidence in the court once more.

Simply repeating what she heard, didn’t make it true, she said.

“Yet, here you are, rather mindlessly repeating the accusation without any evidence or context. This is the very problem with the way that you have been conducting yourself. Clueless, to the extent that I had to correct your lies on EWN.”

De Lille claimed it was now “clear to the public” that the DA refused to give her the evidence, because the party did not “want to give me a fair chance to defend myself”.

“You, on behalf of the DA, want to repeat allegations in public but I am denied of the opportunity to defend myself in public. I also note all the lies on your Blue Bulletin and I am in the process of preparing my civil suit for defamation.

“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 indicated on Thursday that her legal fees were more than R1m.

She also denied that she refused to co-operate in the independent council report compiled by law firm Bowman Gilfillan (Bowmans).

“Lies, again. You should not be speaking on matters if you are not properly informed. I have had three meetings with Bowmans and I have always welcomed the investigation and pledged my cooperation.

“I am in the process of finalising my responses. In addition, it is government business, and you would do well to respect the separation between party and state.”

Like all “previous scripted spokespersons”, her advice was to “read and understand your script” before doing interviews.

“You would be wise to heed my advice. It is about time that you allow the actual spokesperson for the DA, Solly Malatsi, to do his job.”

She signed the letter: “All the best, Patricia de Lille”.

Mazzone responded on Friday with a letter of her own.

She said De Lille’s letter was again an attempt to “mislead the people of Cape Town and South Africa”.

“While you are determined to drag this matter out, we are committed to serving the people of Cape Town,” Mazzone began.

“Again, while your focus is on personal and vitriolic attacks, we continue to do what we were elected to do.”

Mazzone said singling out and attempting to bully and intimidate those who speak up against De Lille’s actions, were the very same tactics which led to 75% of her own caucus losing confidence in her.

She pointed out that she was not a “spokesperson”, but a deputy chairperson of the federal council.

“While you may think a bully tactic such as this would keep me, or the DA, from pursuing accountability and ensuring that good governance always comes first, I wish to inform you that I have never, and will never be bullied into silence.

“Instead of trying to bully me, you should answer key questions that you have consistency dodged.”

She again raised the issue of the SMS allegedly sent to Councillor Xanthea Limberg asking that the then-City manager be scored highest, among others.

She also again accused De Lille of intimidating two whistleblowers in the City and asked whether she “unduly influenced” the appointment of a family friend to a key board position.

“No one person is bigger than the people we are elected to serve. It is our job, as public representatives, to always prioritise the people we are elected to serve.

“Ours is not to be self-serving and be embroiled in nasty mud-slinging. It is unfortunate that you have chosen to make this personal and not about the people of Cape Town and accountability. However, we will not be deterred from the commitment we made to the citizens who elected us. DM

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South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.

On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.

And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.

However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.

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