Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

ID fights its way back

Patricia de Lille’s Independent ­Demo­crats seems to be on the comeback trail in the Western Cape. And the reason appears to be its decision to delink itself from the ANC.

In last week’s by-election in Riviersonderend — part of the Theewaters­kloof municipality, jointly governed by the DA and ID — the ID increased its votes from 2,49% in the municipal election in 2006 to 16,4%.

After losing the seat to the ANC by just 39 votes in 2006, the DA slipped to 34,7% of the vote, while the ANC improved its performance by just short of one percentage point, to gain 47,5%.

Significantly, the DA and ID together outpolled the ANC in the area, after failing to do so last year.

Speaking in Cape Town this week, the ID’s Simon Grindrod said the party had attracted new voters, the majority being those who did not normally vote.

Speaking about ‘the two ladies in his life” — De Lille and Helen Zille (he is Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic development and tourism) — he said that they had mutual respect, which was ‘palpable when you see them together”.

Grindrod suggested the possibility of a DA-ID ruled province after 2009, predicting that the two parties would have ‘a heck of an election” for the Western Cape government. In contrast with the municipal tier, where they had to compete, the proportional system would reflect the strengths of the two parties, which had very different constituencies.

Meanwhile, De Lille has been freed up to refocus on the arms deal and other scandals in Parliament. Despondency over the party’s fight with the DA appears to be over.

A year ago, after it had been torn asunder by defections in Parliament and thrashed in the Tafelsign municipal by-election, De Lille’s party was in the doldrums.

In that campaign, then DA leader Tony Leon repeatedly underscored the betrayal of coloured voters when the ID backed ANC councillor Nomaindia Mfeketo for a further term as mayor.

De Lille’s reneging on a pledge to forge a multi-party government in an executive committee system in Cape Town had clearly alienated the ID’s core constituency.

After winning seven parliamentary seats in the 2004 election, the ID lost two key members — Cecil Burgess and Chris Wang — to the ANC in the September 2005 poll.

Burgess’s move was a brutal blow for De Lille, as he had been her legal adviser and confidant during her battles, including her suspension from Parliament after she had named former apartheid ‘spies” in the ANC.

Grindrod, a former hotelier, then entered the fray, conducting a high-profile campaign at the March 2006 election hustings and entering himself as a potential mayoral candidate.

Emerging as ID caucus leader on the Cape Town council, he appeared to enjoy having the casting vote. But as Zille has pointed out, it was only a casting vote if he backed the DA.

After backing Mfeketo as mayor, Grindrod acknowledged that he was so unpopular that even his neighbours refused to greet him. But his quip acknowledged a broader tactical disaster for the party.

The rebuilding of the party’s image began in earnest. It entered Zille’s multiparty government in Cape Town after an alliance partner withdrew at the beginning of this year.

This was quickly followed by the ID and DA’s toppling of three further ANC administrations in the Western Cape: Drakenstein, Kannaland Bergrivier and Beaufort West.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Donwald Pressly
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Libyan town clings to memory of Gaddafi, 10 years on

Rebels killed Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte on 20 October 2011, months into the Nato-backed rebellion that ended his four-decade rule

Fishing subsidies in the W. Cape: ‘Illegal fishing is our...

Fishers claim they are forced into illegal trawling because subsidies only benefit big vessels

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×