De Lille tipped to become mayor
Dan Plato, the Cape Town mayor, will soon be standing for re-election—and the rival candidate is likely to be Patricia de Lille, the former Independent Democrats leader, who is strongly favoured to move into the hot seat.
Her national profile puts her in pole position and her move from the Western Cape cabinet would be part of the party’s branding and election strategy, Democratic Alliance sources said.
De Lille also has high voter approval, particularly in the province, as an arms deal whistle-blower and fearless parliamentary gadfly. Far from being depressed by recent reports that De Lille could take over his job, Plato is said to be quite amenable to a move. It has been speculated that he may swop positions with De Lille, who is the Western Cape social development minister.
Plato would neither confirm nor deny that he would stand for re-election as mayor. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “We’ll have to look at what is in the party’s best interests.”
De Lille was abroad this week and could not be contacted for comment. The DA said in a statement that its mayoral candidates were chosen by secret ballot. Those wishing to put their names forward should submit them to the DA’s mayoral electoral college by January 27. Three or more frontrunners would be short-listed and the final choice would be made after interviews and voting within party structures.
The DA and the ID formally joined forces last year and De Lille subsequently gave up her seat as an MP. Many believe she is being groomed to take over the post of Western Cape premier from Helen Zille, which would free Zille to focus on leading the party.
Plato is said to be particularly pleased with Cape Town’s service delivery record since he took over from Zille as mayor in May 2009. The universal household access to basic services report, released by the national department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs last November, highlighted the DA’s solid performance during his term.
In the report Cape Town was rated South Africa’s best performing local government administration in every service reviewed, namely water, sanitation, refuse collection and electricity.
But Plato was central to the damaging controversy over open-air toilets installed by the council in the poverty-stricken Makhaza section of Khayelitsha. He defended the city’s actions, insisting the controversy was politically motivated and stirred up by the ANC Youth League.
Another blot on the council’s copybook was its handling of the removal of shacks and consequent rioting in Hout Bay’s Hangberg fishing community in September last year.
The removal of dwellings in a firebreak on the Sentinel Mountain led to violent clashes between residents and police.
Plato said at the time the city believed the agitation was the work of criminal elements in Hangberg, who for three years had prevented the city from moving into the area to improve service delivery.