De Lille and Helen Zille of the DA announce the beginning of a joint political partnership in 2010.
De Lille and Helen Zille of the DA announce the beginning of a joint political partnership in 2010.
Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA)
De Lille travels on a bus with JP Smith and a commuter from Mitchells Plain in 2014.
De Lille travels on a bus with JP Smith and a commuter from Mitchells Plain in 2014.
The position of Cape Town mayor has proven to be a poisoned chalice for coloured politicians, analysts say.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Peter Marais, Dan Plato and now Patricia de Lille had all been pushed out in similar fashion by a “white guard” in the party.

A senior ANC leader claimed DA leaders Mike Walters and James Selfe had played a role in the removal of all three as mayor.

“The persons mentioned did not finish their terms, so that is a fact. It’s not fiction,” Fikeni said.

Secondly, he said, in the ousting of each the role played by white members of the party had been noticeable.

“This is the case in instances where there were no allegations of corruption (with Marais and Plato),” Fikeni said.

“So those trends are well established. Now the question would be: ‘What do we read into that?’”

Fikeni said while there was diversity in the DA, one should ask whether there was also diversity in the party’s powerful hierarchy.

In 2001, Marais was axed by the DA, with reports citing him as having been regarded as a “political embarrassment. Plato served as the 32nd Cape Town mayor from 2009-11 before stepping down amid rumours he was pushed out.

Plato this week rubbished this claim.

“Nobody pushed me out as mayor. It’s immaterial whether I served (a full term) or not. I was lifted out of the mayoral position to a Western Cape minister’s position.

“That is not pushing anyone; that was shifting me from a mayor’s position to a higher ministerial position,” Plato said.

He denied that a white cabal in his party had purged politicians they could not control.

Marais wasn’t available for comment.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the DA’s treatment of its last three mayors of colour should be scrutinised. He said the poor treatment reflected on how the party viewed the coloured constituency.

“It’s important to take this back and look at these three cases. In all cases, the party has not done well. It’s not about these people leaving (the mayoral position), it’s about the manner in which they do so. The DA’s heritage, unfortunately, is that it’s a white party.

“If you look within the DA, in previous years, the exit of the people of colour has always been problematic and there are politicians, such as Bonginkosi Madikizela, who seem comfortable with maintaining this heritage.”

Mathekga described Marais as controversial and said the DA had rejected him. He referred to Plato’s exit as a “dirty affair” which included character-assassination tricks.

Responding to the allegations of a white cabal in the party, DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said: “This is most certainly not the case and if the ANC has factual proof of these malicious and divisive allegations, they must provide it.

“Dan Plato was not fired or disciplined. He went back to the province to serve as MEC on community safety, a job at which he is excelling.

“The DA puts the people it has been entrusted to serve first. Any member who fails to do this will be removed and we will not fail to act, even in the face of false claims regarding the motivation for removal. The ANC would do well to take a leaf out of our book and remove those more interested lining their own pockets than serving the people of this country.”