/ 1 August 2018

‘I smell a rat’ — Lindiwe Mazibuko on DA’s protracted De Lille saga

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.
Mazibuko says she has no plans to join a political party again now that she has returned to the country following a stint abroad studying at Harvard in the United States. (David Harrison/M&G)

Former Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko says she is still waiting to hear exactly what Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has allegedly done, “in plain English”.

Mazibuko addressed the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday evening as the keynote speaker at the Barry Streek memorial lecture in Newlands.

She touched on a range of topics, specifically her desire to aid the transition of aspirant leaders in civil society to public office through a new academy she has launched, called Apolitical Academy.

During a round of questions, Mazibuko was asked about the current affairs of her former party, and how she would handle the ongoing De Lille saga.

“I would like to know what the Patricia de Lille issue is,” she said to laughter and applause from the audience.

“If someone can explain it to me in simple English, perhaps I can offer a fulsome opinion.

An ‘uppity’ woman of colour

“All I have is the ability to adjudicate this issue in mind based on my relationships with the individuals concerned, and I smell I rat.

“I smell a rat. A woman who is accused of having a ‘bad management style’… I’ve never heard of a man being accused in politics of having a bad management style. Politicians are leaders, not managers.

“So, she is ‘uppity’? She’s an ‘uppity’ woman of colour. Is that what the accusation is?”

Mazibuko said there have been allegations of corruption against De Lille that haven’t been followed through, that there were allegations of mismanagement but without any real evidence, and that the public has been pointed to websites that haven’t clarified the situation.

“I hate to position myself as some former leader/political analyst, because I think there’s nothing lamer than sitting on the sidelines and chirping.

“But I would really like to know what she is actually accused of, and how it benefits a party that has aspirations of government to bleed itself in the public square in this fashion. I simply don’t understand.”

The DA and De Lille came to an agreement last week after a months-long dispute, to fast track disciplinary hearings into her conduct, and that will be open to the media.

‘Serious concerns’ about ANC deputy president

When asked about her former party’s chances in the upcoming elections, Mazibuko was more positive and said it would be a mistake to write the DA off.

“Media polls tend to be unscientific and not representative, so the data isn’t always reliable.

“I would humbly suggest that one of the challenges of the opposition parties is no longer having a common enemy. It may be adding to the infighting to manifest and the ANC is sort of trucking forward.

“The ANC also is no holy cow. It has a deputy president that I have serious concerns with.”

“But I would also remind analysts that people have been predicting the end of the DA for 15 years now. Every election was going to be the DA’s last or (the one that it would) be replaced as the official opposition.

“So I wouldn’t get too worked up at the prospects that the official opposition, which has 27% of the vote, is in danger of being overthrown.

“It may go backwards, which has happened before, but I think cooler heads will prevail, and it’s possible for political parties to rescue themselves from themselves at the eleventh hour.”

Mazibuko said she had no plans to join a political party again now that she has returned to the country following a stint abroad studying at Harvard in the United States.

She wants to lobby people and groups to support young leaders from all walks of life through her new academy, and it therefore made sense for her to remain impartial for the time being.

‘My blood is not blue’

She also dismissed rumours that she was cosying up to the ANC.

“There’s been a little speculation as to why I’m [swirling] around ANC meetings. It’s not because I’m joining the ANC,” she smiled.

“I’m looking for leaders who will support graduates of my programme that will support next-generation public leaders.

“One of the things you need in politics is somebody that will provide you leadership and support and root for you in a time when you may be a threat to the status quo.

“I’m looking at all political organisations, not just the ANC, so in that context it would be inappropriate to be a member of any political party including the DA.”

She said it was very likely she would still support the DA in the 2019 elections, but also light-heartedly said South Africans should move away from choosing a political team “for life”.

“My blood is not blue. It gets exposed to oxygen and then it turns red. Science, guys!” — News24