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At the behest of the party

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For many South Africans, the DA continues to show that despite its protestations to the contrary it simply isn’t ready to govern

Patricia de Lille Picture: Tracey Adams/ African News Agency

THE DEMOCRATIC Alliance fired its executive mayor for Cape Town yesterday – after months of machinations. Patricia de Lille was never going to go down without a fight. The former trade unionist and fierce Pan Africanist who blew the whistle on the arms deal and its associated corruption that defined – and debased – South African politics is a proud woman with courage aplenty.

That does not mean that she is without flaws. She has many – her erstwhile political masters discovered much that rendered her unfit to continue as executive mayor of the Mother City.

Whether this was enough in terms of law to remove her was irrelevant. In this country, as we have seen through the ruling party, politicians serve at the behest of the party. The ANC has recalled two presidents on exactly this point.

This is one of the most fascinating aspects of the entire case. Cape Town was long held as an example of good government and the DA was making good political capital out of showing what it would be capable of should it one day get the chance.

At the last local government elections the DA got that opportunity – to run three more metropolitan municipalities, albeit through carefully crafted coalitions; in Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

It was the same playbook that had been used to such effect between De Lille’s old party, the Independent Democrats and the DA to win Cape Town in 2006. Helen Zille was the mayor. De Lille would be rewarded for her loyalty and support after merging the ID into the DA, by becoming mayor herself.

Now that very same party has fired her.

Yesterday’s announcement that De Lille had effectively fired herself by announcing her intention to quit on a radio show, will strike many as spurious in the extreme, a cowardly pseudo technicality that could cost it dear at the polls.

Its members will wonder how their leaders have managed to so successfully snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in an era dominated by the electoral albatross of Jacob Zuma and continue to do so.

They need look no further than Day Zero, not the water shortage but the egregiously inept management of it, and now De Lille.

It’s one thing heckling from the opposition benches, it’s a totally different scenario being the government.

For many South Africans, the DA continues to show that despite its protestations to the contrary it simply isn’t ready to govern.