De Lille: Targeting Good party growth during SA’s 2024 elections
Patricia de Lille says her party, which is contesting its second general election, will take ‘every coalition on merit’ after next year's voting polls.
The Good party – led by veteran politician Patricia de Lille – has just elected new leaders. This comes almost nine months before South Africans will go to the polls in the seventh democratic elections.
De Lille, a veteran politician who has held positions in local, provincial and national government, spoke to Daily Maverick as Good’s first elective conference took place in Cape Town. Between speaking to delegates, De Lille gave an interview about coalitions and next year’s elections, which are expected to be hotly contested.
“We are going to participate nationally and in all nine provinces and we’re hoping that we can get 10 members in the National Assembly, because you need about 50,000 votes per seat. We’ll be happy with that, but we’re also targeting to get seats in the other nine provinces,” she said.
The party was formed in December 2018. At the weekend of 10-11 November, Good held its inaugural elective conference at Cape Town’s City Hall after delays associated with a by-election that the party contested – and lost.
Long history in politics
De Lille was initially a member of the Pan Africanist Movement and became a PAC MP in 1994 after a career within the trade union movement. She was a whistle-blower in the South African Arms Deal. In 2003, she formed the Independent Democrats. The party then merged with the DA in 2010.
De Lille served as the Western Cape MEC of social development between 2010 and 2011. In 2011, she was the DA’s mayoral candidate, and when the party won the most votes in Cape Town, she became mayor. She served as mayor until 2018 – after a nasty, bitter and public two-year divorce from the DA.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024
Good was formed in December 2018, and in February 2019 the party officially launched its election campaign.
In a stunning turn of events, De Lille was appointed as minister of public works and infrastructure in 2019. This caused then DA leader Mmusi Maimane to tell journalists that he believed a spot in the Cabinet had been part of a wider plan for De Lille since she left the DA.
De Lille describes this as doing her country duty, and told about 500 delegates at the Good party conference: “When the call came from the President, I did not think of politics. I did what I have done for more than 50 years, and answered the call to serve my country.”
But while serving in this position, she faced scandals such as the R40-million Beitbridge border fence scandal involving officials and her then adviser. Then, in March 2023, De Lille was reshuffled by the President and became Minister of Tourism. Her first task was to stop the ill-fated Tottenham Hotspur deal, which was first exclusively reported by Daily Maverick.
Google and Waze after crime spate
This week, De Lille also announced a partnership with Google and Waze to remove Nyanga township as a shortcut to the airport, after a spate of crime incidents.
When Daily Maverick asked De Lille if joining an ANC-led Cabinet could potentially hinder Good’s ability to grow, she said: “Good was established just weeks before the last general election in 2019 and became the only woman-led party represented in Parliament… This is when President Cyril Ramaphosa called on me to serve South Africans as a minister in his Cabinet.”
De Lille added that, after her appointment, Good contested 40 municipalities in the 2021 local government elections, where 50 councillors were elected, “showing significant growth and expansion of our support base. This has also been reflected in numerous by-elections where we saw growth, including Nyanga, where we tripled our support in an ANC stronghold, as well as Tshwane in our first by-election outside of the Western Cape.”
Not all Good
However, it has not been all rosy for the party. Good lost three wards in George municipality in July 2023, leaving the party without any seats at ward level. The party lost two wards to the DA and one to the PA. About this loss to her rival party, Good accused the DA of voting irregularities, such as registering hundreds of people to the same address, something which the DA denied. Good would eventually lose this case before the Electoral Court. Also, the party fired organiser and Western Cape member of the legislature Shaun August, after a disastrous Witzenberg by-election that saw Good lose a ward it had been tipped to win.
It would then emerge that August and former Good member and Witzenberg deputy mayor Felicity Klazen had been embroiled in a sex scandal – while they were supposed to be campaigning for the party.
“The only by-election where we actually went down, where we went from second to number fifth place, was in Witzenberg… And that was that whole party scandal and the abuse of money and the corruption that went on there, within the party. And we dealt with it – and we fired people because of that,” explained De Lille.
Eye on 2024
When Daily Maverick asked De Lille about the party’s aims for the upcoming elections, she mentioned the 10 seats the party was aiming for.
But it won’t be easy. Independent elections analyst Wayne Sussman previously told Daily Maverick that Good’s votes could potentially be taken up by other parties such as the Patriotic Alliance as well as social justice activist Zackie Achmat, who is running as an independent. When Daily Maverick asked De Lille about this, she said: “I respect Wayne Sussman and he’s certainly entitled to his own opinion. It’s not a fact. He’s not entitled to his own facts. It’s only the elections that will prove him right or wrong.”
The ANC is in a coalition with Good in places such as Theewaterskloof. When Daily Maverick asked De Lille about possible coalitions ahead of the 2024 elections, she said this was something the party would “definitely” discuss next year. “Again, if we are approached and say we hold the balance of power or something like that, we will take every, every coalition on its merit,” she said.
But ultimately, what does the party offer voters in 2024?
“Good is unique in that we are not a movement for political entrepreneurs. Good is a movement for change and for social justice. We are good people committed to our political brand of fairness, kindness and love for our fellow human beings,” said De Lille.
The party also has unfinished business, said De Lille. “Good is also the only party dedicated to fighting for a basic income grant of R999 that meets the lower-bound poverty line.” DM