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Embattled De Lille forms new party for 2019 polls

Former Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille announces that she will be launching a new political party to contest the 2019 elections in all nine provinces. Cape Town, 18 November 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

After 18 months of public spats, ongoing legal battles and political infighting amid reports of corruption, nepotism and maladministration, embattled former Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille is not yet ready to give up her seat in the political arena. Not three weeks after packing up her mayoral office, the former DA member announced that she is starting a new party, one that she says will ‘put people before politics’.

On Sunday former mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille announced that she will form new political party that will contest the 2019 elections in all provinces. She will reveal the name of the party and unpack policy positions in the next two weeks. The official launch will take place in January 2019.

Today, I am inviting all South Africans who are in search of something new that will disrupt our current political system to join me… I have spent my entire life fighting for a society that is just, fair and caring and I will never rest until this is achieved,” De Lille said.

More details about the the party’s policies will be released in due course, but the former mayor said her party is “in it to win” and placed emphasis on young leadership who can move the country forward.

Since Tata Madiba left us, no single leader in our country has shown any real leadership and embarked on any meaningful reforms to bring about reconciliation and unity,” she said.

Our party will put people before politics. We will be on the ground, not just sitting in Parliament… We will clean up our country and politics…We will make change happen for the greater good,” she said.

The political veteran said she anticipates that her announcement will “unleash a new level of dirty tricks” to discredit her and that she is “shocked” by the behaviour of the DA, which was “obviously motivated by malice and hate”.

[The DA] do not believe in truth, they do not believe in redress and they do not believe their own four core values of freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity,” she said.

The DA/De Lille saga has been making headlines for months and even though her mayoral chain was hung up weeks ago, her political and legal woes are far from over.

The most recent spat occurred on Friday when mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg and councillor Angus McKenzie laid a criminal complaint against De Lille at the Cape Town police station, according to a report by News24. The charge relates to an SMS dating back to September 2016, which refers to the re-appointment of former city manager Achmat Ebrahim.

In the slew of legal battles that sees De Lille pitted against her former party, there are also two reports by legal firm Bowmans, which found alleged irregularities during her time in office. The first was commissioned by the Cape Town City Council in November 2017 after executive director in De Lille’s office‚ Craig Kesson, filed an affidavit which made damning claims against the former mayor related to the Foreshore Freeway Project and the procurement of electric buses manufactured by the Chinese automaker BYD Auto. De Lille said the report was “inaccurate” and “baseless”.

The second investigates allegations of misconduct and according to the Mail & Guardian, placed the onus on former city manager Ebrahim for failing to report alleged wrongdoing. De Lille has consistently questioned the credibility of both reports and has claimed that they are contradictory.

I fought against the might of the apartheid regime. I fought against the powerful ANC elite when I exposed the corrupt Arms Deal. The attack on my character, reputation and values by the DA cabal is nothing like I have ever experienced,” she said on Sunday, later emphasising that she has given the DA a “bloody nose” on more than one occasion.

Last week, in a victory for the former mayor, the Western Cape High Court ordered the DA to abandon findings against De Lille made in a sub-committee report chaired by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, which had been used as the basis of disciplinary charges against her.

De Lille said that party leader Mmusi Maimane must be brought to book because he failed to protect her rights when she served in the DA.

No one has been held accountable for the party having to spend R2.6-million on legal fees because the party didn’t follow its own constitution and the Constitution of the country… I’ve always said I want to be held accountable, but I’ve never seen a single person in the DA held accountable for this mess around my name,” she said.

Meanwhile, De Lille has laid criminal complaints against senior leaders of DA members including Mike Waters, Henk Hugo, Shehana Kajee and Bronwynn Engelbrecht for fraud, defamation, and crimen injuria after they shared an alleged fake Auditor-General report on social media. The embattled former mayor also survived a motion of no confidence — brought by her own party — by one vote in February 2018. And in July the DA withdrew another motion of no confidence after discussions between De Lille and senior members of the DA.

The DA can come, I am ready, but I must also warn them, there is no place in our new democracy for people who play dirty politics… I am ready for any further fights. I have taken the Bowmans report on review, so the fight is not over yet,” she said.

De Lille became involved in trade union politics shortly after matriculating, eventually working her way up to being elected to the National Executive Committee of the South African Chemical Workers Union. She joined the Pan Africanist Movement (PAC) in 1989 and in 1990 she led the PAC delegation to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa).

She became a Member of Parliament for the PAC in 1994 and in 2003 founded and led the Independent Democrats (ID). In a surprise floor-crossing move in 2010 the ID joined the DA, which sought to counter the ANC’s political leadership at the time. In 2010 she resigned as an MP and was sworn in as Member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and Provincial Minister of Social Development.

Addressing journalists on the steps of the Western Cape High on 31 October 2018 De Lille resigned as mayor of Cape Town and member of the DA.

De Lille admitted that she had been approached by several other political parties, including the ANC and the EFF, but says the traditional style of politics must be changed in order to groom the younger generation rather than “recycling” the same politicians. She is not ruling out running for the position of Western Cape premier, but says that she is not just after a pay check.

My struggle is not for personal gain. I could sit comfortably today at home and go on pension… To do the work we’re doing now I’m investing my own money because I’m investing for the good of this country and this is the legacy that I want to leave behind,” she said. DM

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