Mmusi, De Lille smoke peace pipe as DA tries to stop bleeding ahead of 2019

JOHANNESBURG — It’s been a torrid year for the Democratic Alliance. At the start of 2018, the party grappled with the perception that it had failed Cape Town residents with insufficient backup water-disaster plans amid a crippling drought. The timing of this natural disaster (for which national government itself is actually hugely responsible) couldn’t have happened at a worse time as so-called ‘Ramaphoria’ was in full swing. The DA’s biggest recruiter (Jacob Zuma) also exited stage-left on Valentine’s Day this year. Then there’s been the strange internal DA battle with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille which has left the party’s voters confused as to what the DA is accusing her of exactly. De Lille, a street-smart politician, has, in turn, run circles around the DA. In a bid to stop the bleeding, the DA struck a deal with De Lille over the weekend to see her resign and finish her post by end-October 2018. Of course, a week in itself is a long time in politics and there’s no guarantee that this promised exit from De Lille will be smooth… – Gareth van Zyl

By Paul Vecchiatto, Sam Mkokeli and Roxanne Henderson

(Bloomberg) – Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille will step down at the end of October after reaching a settlement with her Democratic Alliance party, a truce that lets the opposition group focus on next year’s national election.

The party will drop disciplinary action against her and pick a new mayor, according to DA leader Mmusi Maimane. De Lille, who served as mayor since 2011, will remain a member of the party.

The DA, which also runs Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, has accused her of poor stewardship of one of the country’s major cities, which it uses as a platform to demonstrate its brand of government as it challenges the African National Congress’s grip on the national and most of the provincial governments.

Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille speaks during an interview at her office in Cape Town. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

“The manner in which this issue was resolved is very messy and leaves more questions than answers,” independent political analyst Melanie Verwoerd said by phone from Cape Town. “While it does let the DA focus now on the 2019 elections there will still be a hangover from this.”

De Lille said she realised “this fight between myself and the DA can’t continue forever.” While she was ready to proceed with a disciplinary hearing, “now that the DA has withdrawn the charges against me and I have cleared my name, I have decided to step aside.”

The party’s image has been dented by the bruising public battle with the veteran politician. De Lille took the DA to court and won twice over attempts to remove her from office and terminate her membership.

“Throughout this painful period I believe we’ve acted in the best interests of the people of Cape Town,” Maimane said. “As a colleague and a friend I have worked with mayor Patricia De Lille for a long time. I respect her.”