Just when the DA thought it had seen the back of Patricia de Lille, the party’s attempts at showing her up one last time could drag on like an unhappy marriage and possibly cost it votes at next year’s polls.
A deal struck a few months ago would have seen De Lille ride off into the sunset, without a whiff of scandal.
Whistle-blowers alleged she tried to unduly influence appointments in the city’s administration, and turned a blind eye to fraud and corruption over a bus tender.
The City of Cape Town’s probe, subsequent legal challenges to that process and the DA’s moves to discipline De Lille came to naught, thus all parties agreed she would “step aside”.
But a week ago, just as De Lille was preparing to address her last city council meeting as mayor of Cape Town, the disputed Bowman’s report into the MyCiTi bus tender was leaked to the media - a shrewdly co-ordinated move by De Lille’s opponents to try and have the last say in a spat which dragged on for more than a year.
The DA majority, which has tried and failed to axe her on several occasions, subsequently adopted a report which suggested that De Lille be criminally charged. One final coup de grâce, to ruin De Lille’s reputation.
That’s what her detractors thought.
Sensing that the report would be adopted, five DA councillors quit the party. They later explained that their actions were motivated by the “DA’s racism”.
It had seemed unlikely that De Lille would vacate the mayoral seat. Instead, she’s launched a court bid to clear her name.
Meanwhile, former Cape Town mayor Dan Plato, who is known for his acquiescence and associating with a criminal drag queen to sink the career of a senior police officer, will be waiting in the wings for the foreseeable future.
While we can’t predict how all this will affect the DA next year, one can be assured that voters will think long and hard over whether they can once again place their faith in the party after the debacle over De Lille.
* Aziz Hartley, Cape Argus editor.
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