The bruising power play behind De Lille’s exit

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The bruising power play behind De Lille’s exit

Natasha Marrian And Bekezela Phakathi | 2017-01-31 12:42:51.0

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. File photo

Image by: Sunday Times

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s surprise resignation as Democratic Alliance Western Cape leader on Sunday came after a bruising fight with party heavyweights including Western Cape Premier Helen Zille in which De Lille was forced to back down on a key appointment to her mayoral executive committee.

The conflict in a federal executive meeting two weeks ago centred on the removal of councillor JP Smith‚ with whom De Lille had frequently clashed‚ from the safety and security mayoral committee portfolio.

The factional power play was linked to a succession race in the DA for the premiership of the province in 2019 and a broader fight between DA loyalists and remnants of the former Independent Democrats (ID)‚ after completing their ground-breaking merger in 2010 in what was then seen as a coup for Zille‚ who had gained a high-profile leader in De Lille. The ID was dissolved and swallowed up by the DA in 2014.

But De Lille on Monday dismissed succession talk and speculation that she was bruised after the alleged “micro-management” by “Wale Street [the premier’s office]”.

Instead‚ she said those peddling such stories were opposed to her pro-poor and transformative agenda that she has introduced in the city.

De Lille said in her resignation letter‚ which she made public‚ that she wants to focus on her goals as Cape Town mayor — implementing a transformation plan to “modernise and reform the government to improve service delivery”.

“I got an overwhelming majority of two-thirds majority‚ now when you receive a two-thirds majority‚ the last thing you do is be arrogant with power‚ but you can’t also become complacent.

“I became very anxious over the past four months that the responsibility of the two-thirds majority weighed heavily … it’s a first in government for me‚ the first in the DA … so I said this is a tremendous responsibility‚” De Lille said.

She said she had consulted DA leader Mmusi Maimane and he had agreed with her move‚ so the “speculation” was just that.

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