Patricia De Lille denies aspirations to become Western Cape premier. Picture: Tracey Adams

Cape Town – If she wanted to run for the premiership of the Western Cape in 2019, she could, mayor Patricia de Lille in an exclusive interview this week, stifling rumours her “aspiration to become premier” had been “halted by DA bosses”.

De Lille announced she was stepping down as provincial leader of the party to focus all her energy on “taking Cape Town to the next level”.

Opposition parties were, however, not convinced and wasted no time poking holes in De Lille’s reasoning, saying her resignation came amid a “crisis” in the DA.

The three biggest opposition parties in the DA-led province, the ANC, EFF and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), have all said De Lille may have forgone the provincial leadership role, due to an apparent lack of internal support from top DA structures.

“We believe de Lille had aspirations of becoming the premier of the Western Cape and we believe those aspirations have been halted by the bosses of the DA,” ACDP provincial leader Ferlon Christians said.

The EFF’s Bernard Joseph added: “It’s quite clear there’s trouble in the house of the DA. There appears to be a conflict of interest between the black members and the white members of the party, so, I don’t buy De Lille’s excuse. What we’ll do is utilise this opportunity to make inroads come 2019.”

De Lille indicated her focus remained overseeing the roll-out of the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan.

She explained the DA’s constitution was set up that the provincial leader of the party was not an automatic candidate for premiership; that premiers were elected via internal electoral colleges.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s spokesperson Mabine Seabe on Monday called the premier succession talks “premature discussions”.

Maimane, who has accepted De Lille’s resignation, said as the most experienced mayor, De Lille “will also focus on helping the DA govern well in our metros”.

Cape Argus