Cape Town DA urges members to not engage Patty’s party

As Patricia de Lille continues to garner speculation and seeming support for her newly announced political party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the City of Cape Town has gagged its members in the municipality from discussing their new opposition.

Grant Twigg, the chairperson of the DA in the City of Cape Town region, confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that he had sent an SMS to all members in the region instructing them to focus on the DA’s campaign strategy for the 2019 elections.

The message, which was sent less than an hour after De Lille’s announcement reads: “Dear DA members, please refrain from engaging or commenting on the recent announcement of Patricia De Lille. Our focus is the DA and building #1SA4All. Let’s focus on our campaign, our strategy and continuing progress in the Cape Town.”

The SMS also reads: “Our job is to #PutCapeTownFirst not individuals.”

The #1SA4All is part of the DA’s campaign message for 2019.

On Sunday, De Lille confirmed speculation that she would be launching her own political party to contest the general election in all nine provinces. The party is yet to be named.

READ MORE: De Lille announces new party to contest 2019 elections

“We are going all out to win. As you can see coalition politics has become the norm in our country, but for now we are in it to win,” De Lille said.

Shaun August — the former DA chief whip in the City of Cape Town council — confirmed that he would be joining De Lille’s party. He was the first member of the council to resign on October 24, in an unprecedented council meeting where a total of five DA councillors resigned from the party, accusing the DA of racism and unfairness in the way it had treated De Lille.

“I’m doing something good today and am supporting Patricia de Lille on her movement to build a better South Africa. I pledge to continue working to empower my fellow South Africans and work for the greater good of our communities and our society,” August wrote in a Facebook post.

Former City of Cape Town DA councillors — who resigned alongside August — also confirmed they would be joining De Lille. They include Siyabulela Mamkeli, Suzette Little, Jonathan Cupido, and Gregchan Barnardo.

Brett Herron, the DA’s former mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said he had not yet made a decision on joining De Lillle’s party but would be doing so in the “coming week(s)”. Herron, who is believed to be a close ally of De Lille, resigned from the DA on November 1. He accused the DA of “blocking” social housing and of being racist.

READ MORE: Brett Herron resigns from DA claiming party blocked affordable housing

De Lille has said her party will prioritise finding a solution to address apartheid spatial planning in Cape Town, which Herron has said is his own priority in party policies.

“One thing is clear to me: there is an absence of leadership in current political parties to meaningfully tackle spatial justice in our towns and cities. Spatial exclusion is at the heart of almost every economic and social justice issue,” Herron told the M&G.

“Whatever I decide, my commitment to fight for a spatial restructuring of our societies will continue,” he said. 

August said De Lille’s former party, the Independent Democrats (ID), would be renamed and relaunched into a new political outfit to contest the 2019 elections. The ID is still registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission of South Africa, meaning De Lille’s relaunch will allow her to participate in the elections without having to register a new party.

“The ID is still registered, so we are just changing the name,” August said, adding that he had been receiving calls across the country from people pledging to support De Lille.

De Lille, meanwhile, said the response to her announcement has been “overwhelming”.

The party will be officially launched in January 2019, De Lille added. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.
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