'I warned Mmusi Maimane about the laptop boys' - De Lille
Opinion / 16 November 2019, 11:45am / Patricia De Lille
A year ago, after having to obtain court protection for the third time to stop the DA lying about me and slandering my name, I stepped down on my terms from the position as executive mayor of Cape Town and resigned from the party.
Other parties tried to woo me to join them, but I believed - and still believe - that most South Africans are thoroughly disillusioned with the old parties who have collectively failed to bring citizens closer together, create common purpose, address inequity and move the country forward.
Over the past several years, our political discourse became totally bogged down in the quicksands of Nkandla. In Parliament, opposition parties sought to define themselves by the level of abuse they could hurl at the ruling party - while the ruling party sought by all means to defend the indefensible. Looters of the State had virtually free reign.
It was as if nothing else mattered; as if the grotesque levels of poverty didn’t exist, and the task of fixing post-apartheid South Africa was yesterday’s news.
I ultimately fell out with the DA over matters of principle. Simply put, I discovered that the party didn’t have any. It was schizophrenic. It was difficult to tell who was in charge.
It used words like “redress” in its slogans, but its conservative caucus in Cape Town didn’t believe redress was necessary. Nationally, it projected itself as a transforming, non-racial party, while behind the scenes, young white males with laptops called all the moves.
In particular, I couldn’t live with the hypocrisy of fooling the DA’s core constituency - many of whose families were forcibly evicted from prime property in Cape Town - into believing that the party cared about righting the wrongs of the past, while behind the scenes, those pulling the party strings blocked all efforts to begin unstitching the Group Areas Act through integrated housing developments.
On my way out, I warned then-DA leader Mmusi Maimane that the laptop boys would come for him next.
A year ago, I believed - and still believe - that most South Africans were sick and tired of divisive politicians calling each other names. They are tired of factionalism. Although South Africans may have historical allegiances to one or the other old political party, none of these parties really represent them.
If the ANC disappeared overnight, what would the legacy of its 25-year occupation of the Union Buildings be? Similarly, were the DA to disappear, what improvements could it claim to have made in Cape Town and the Western Cape? The answers are all around us, in the faltering economy, electricity failures, informal settlements, gender-based violence, gangsterism, public transport chaos.
In Cape Town, most diabolically, the new municipal water tariffs requiring families in poorer areas to pay more per litre per person of water than in richer areas tells its own story.
Twenty-five years ago, South Africa was defined by economic, social, environmental and spatial injustice. When we sat down a year ago to work on a GOOD set of policies, we realised how little had changed. We placed achieving economic, social, environmental and spatial justice at the heart of GOOD’s policy offering.
We also deliberately positioned ourselves as a constructive, participatory and inclusive movement. We believe there is more to providing effective opposition than simply opposing everything as loudly as possible.
Although we had precious little time, and virtually no resources, we were determined to contest the general election in May 2019. We were pleased that more than 70 000 South Africans immediately agreed with the direction we were taking. This number will grow on the road to municipal elections in 2021.
I have opposed injustice for more than 40 years, as a trade unionist and anti-apartheid activist, a parliamentarian, MEC, executive mayor, and now, as the leader of an opposition party and member of the national executive.
The GOOD movement continues to gather steam. We’ve lost a handful of members along the way, truth be told, largely due to not being able to employ them, or pay them as much as the rich old parties can offer.
In the run-up to three Western Cape municipal by-elections this month, the DA held a triumphal media briefing to parade 10 or 12 GOOD members who’d been lured to their ranks. One doesn’t need a press briefing to do the simple maths.
I believe my colleagues and I made the right decision to abandon the DA ship and establish a viable alternative political party in which all good South Africans can feel at home.
GOOD doesn’t represent whites and it doesn’t represent blacks; it represents all, and it is on a mission for justice for all.
De Lille is the leader of the GOOD party
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