Cape Town - The DA’s Western Cape leadership race has moved into overdrive with senior party insiders claiming mayor Patricia de Lille may be the third candidate to enter the fray.
The Cape Argus has reliably established that the feisty mayor had been asked to throw her hat into the ring and stand against incumbent leader Ivan Meyer and hopeful DA MPL Lennit Max.
Insiders say Meyer and Max have fallen out of favour with the DA’s national leadership and that a faction within the DA – said to be led by the party’s federal executive chairman James Selfe – is actively pushing De Lille to stand against the pair.
When asked for comment, Selfe did not confirm or deny this, saying only: “You should continue to try and get the mayor. She would have to tell you what her plans are.”
Two party insiders said they were not sure why national was interfering in a provincial matter. “But the request came from the top. It is believed that national is not happy with the two candidates currently standing for provincial leader.”
But it appears De Lille has not yet been persuaded to do so.
When approached for comment, De Lille’s close ally and DA MPL Rodney Lentit conceded that he had been inundated with calls from DA members wanting to know whether De Lille would be entering the race for the provincial leadership.
“I do not want to be involved in speculation, but if this is true it will be one of the most emotional and difficult decisions I’ve had to deal with since I’ve entered active politics, over the past 12 years.”
Lentit said while he had spoken to his former ID colleague, before he endorsed Lennit Max’s campaign for leadership, he could not confirm whether De Lille would be standing for the post.
“That decision is up to De Lille. She is my political mother, someone who took me under her wing in the ID. She taught me that you don’t have to be a politician to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Lentit said several DA members in the provincial legislature had called him over the weekend wanting him to withdraw his endorsement of Max.
“You don’t go back on your word, that’s something De Lille has taught me. I’ve endorsed Max and will continue to do so, my word is my bond,” he said.
Lentit added that he would not be able to campaign against De Lille if she stood for the provincial leadership.
“If it does come to that, I will have to make some hard political decisions, including possibly resigning as member of the provincial legislature.
“But I just can not go back on my word. I will have to defy those who have asked me to withdraw my support for Max.”
Dismissing claims that the DA national leadership had asked her to stand for a position, De Lille said last night she had several opportunities in the past to do so, but did not take them.
“I am due to make an announcement tomorrow (Monday),” she added.
Meanwhile, a Western Cape ANC lekgotla has resolved to step up its onslaught against the DA-led provincial government.
The leadership used the lekgotla at the weekend to propose a shift in focus, zooming in on economic opportunities for township areas, job creation for the youth, and land reform.