Opinionista Yonela Diko 19 February 2018

DA vs De Lille: We made you, we can break you

The contrast around what has been happening in the National Assembly and the City of Cape Town council leaves the Democratic Alliance exposed and its motives in both houses highly circumspect.

It is no secret that the DA has parachuted many black and female leaders into positions of leadership as a strategy to woo both black and female voters. Makashule Gana, one of those parachuted young leaders, stated it in no uncertain terms in a News24 interview in January last year that “the DA needs more female leaders and more black leaders”:

I tell them I want people who look like me [in the party]”, he said. “We must more than double our votes in Gauteng townships such as Mamelodi, Soweto, Atteridgeville, Kagiso and others,” Gana added.

In the same interview, Gana said, “In last year’s polls, the City of Cape Town was paraded as the DA’s model for success.” So the aspirations of Gana and the DA in the rest of the country, particularly in Gauteng, were already modelled on the City of Cape Town, where the DA had leaders who looked like their voters and who were able to connect with voters without the usual DA race barrier. As the Mayor of the model DA City, Patricia de Lille has been at the centre of the DA’s success.

It comes as a shock to many then that exactly a year later, Patricia de Lille, mayor of the flagship municipality of the DA, has her back against the wall, subjected to daily assaults and insults from the very Democratic Alliance that paraded her as the model mayor, using every trick in the devil’s book to paint her as a failed mayor who shirked her duties and has brought the DA into disrepute.

Underneath all this irrational DA behaviour is the unspoken fact that the DA Federal Executive has always felt that DA black leaders owe them a certain loyalty because they elevated them to leadership positions over and above a white cabal that has been in the organisation for many years, whose only problem is their non-strategic colour to lead. This parachuting of black leaders by the FedEx has always been seen as a two-pronged strategy, on one hand a tool to woo black voters into the party and on the other a tool to keep the undeserving black leaders on a leash.

Nelly Shamase, writing for Mail & Guardian in January 2016, spoke to some DA constituency leaders who spoke of disturbing internal racial abuse in the DA. One of these constituency leaders said, “I feel powerless when my activists come to me and say they are victims of racism from senior people in the party, who say they should be grateful that the DA keeps them busy because otherwise they would probably be out stealing and killing people somewhere.”

This racial abuse however is not limited to black leaders at lower levels.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, another parachuted leader who was expected to be a little more grateful to the DA cabal, wrote a scathing piece in January 2016 on the racial dynamics in the Democratic Alliance. In one of her comments she said the “DA should also reflect on hurtful and inaccurate internal party narratives that presume ‘white competence’, while labelling black leaders products of the generosity of their white counterparts”.

What is clear is that, while in public the DA would like to tell us that the black leaders in their ranks are chosen out of merit and are chosen by democratic processes, behind closed doors these black leaders are subjected to humiliating commentary from the so-called “white brain trust” which demands gratitude from these very black leaders for being placed at the front of the party. This is not only silly and disrespectful but is akin to business fronting, which, after a deal is clinched, sees the black face that helped them secure the deal cast out in the cold as crass and crude and unworthy of being part of the elite team.

De Lille however does not suffer fools and knows exactly what she brought to the DA table in order to become mayor. Above everything, unlike former president Jacob Zuma, who had faced no less than eight motions of no confidence for known and well documented reasons, De Lille brings no constitutional rebuke, no court battles, no personal misjudgments or scandals and her governance and delivery record have been the reason the DA has gone to the rest of the country to seek a mandate to govern elsewhere.

De Lille owes the white cabal nothing and no one made her. By the time the DA found her, she was already a trailblazer who had built a respectable political career and political party; she will not be cast out into the cold with disdain and disrespect by an old white party that would be nothing without her and her black colleagues.

The sudden turnaround of the DA against De Lille is abrupt, sinister, rushed and without any political prudence that would have been expected from people who have ambitions beyond running municipalities and corner shops.

What is at play here is a mayor with seven years of relative competency and accolades to match, including a world design award in 2014, against crass accusations from questionable DA characters who themselves should be subjects of internal investigation if the DA was a fair organisation.

We have a 42-page affidavit from the former executive director in the mayor’s office, Craig Kesson, a man who worked for barely 10 months in this office. While other normal people would still be struggling to get their feet on the ground in their new jobs, Craig was already doing internal investigation, an act that could only be interpreted as intentional and targeted – clearly sent by handlers to do the dirty work.

Nothing came out of this affidavit, clearly, because the DA has not charged De Lille with corruption, except in the past week when they claim to have found one contractor from 2012 who claims De Lille solicited money to the tune of R5-million from him. This last stunt does not even deserve scrutiny. It is plain stupid.

Then we have a letter from the insubordinate JP Smith, a man who instead of respecting the mayor’s orders decided to challenge her and write a letter to his white friends up on high. One of these white friends is the temperamental John Steenhuisen, a man who will never be half the politician De Lille is. Steenhuisen produced a report that also did not find any corruption on De Lille’s part but settled for her so-called dictatorial leadership style. Clearly a comic report from a politician with a lot of growing to do.

The people of Cape Town deserve more than this bunch of political storm-troopers trapped in collective stupidity.

When you turn on the one who has been your flagship mayor for seven years you cannot be frivolous and coy about her misdeeds. She had better have violated the Constitution or killed someone in cold blood to be treated with such disdain.

What this reflects, however, everywhere where the DA is a political player, is that their motives are always sinister, cruel and self-serving.

Anyone who chooses to form an alliance with the Democratic Alliance or joins their ranks must know what they are signing up for. DM

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