A face you can trust
Patricia de Lille deserves her place in the 20 most loathsome South Africans not because of her career, which in general was respectable, but because when the moment came to speak truth to power, she shirked, and in a grand betrayal chose power over truth. Her actions during the 2006 Cape Town municipal elections negated all that came before, and it is this moment by which she will be remembered. She is loathsome not for what she was, but for what she could have been.
In early 2000, the Democratic Party (DP) formed a coalition with the National Party (NP), named the Democratic Alliance (DA), in order to stand up to the dominant African National Congress (ANC). In the 2000 municipal elections, this coalition was able to beat the ANC in the most hotly contested municipality, Cape Town, with 56.5% of the vote to the ANC’s 38.15%. However, Martinus van Schalkwyk, that spineless last leader of the NP and traitor to the Afrikaner people, decided to cross over to the ANC on the promise of more of whatever it was he believes make a man. The actions of this liar, combined with the nonsensical floor crossing law, took Cape Town municipality away from its democratically elected council and gave it to the ANC.
During the 2006 municipal elections, everybody knew that Cape Town would once again be one of the most contested municipalities. Before the elections, many smaller parties, including the DA and Patricia de Lille’s newly formed Independent Democrats (ID) decided to put their differences aside in order to be effective opposition to the ANC.
On election day, this coalition was able to beat the ANC, thanks to so many of the members of small political parties refusing to be bought or intimidated by ANC rapscallions. Of the 210-seat council, the DA won 90 seats, the ANC 81, the ID 23, with the rest split between smaller parties, most of them backing the DA.
It was a good day for democracy in South Africa.
Enter the politician’s fear of death. Patricia de Lille had always prided herself on standing up to ANC domination, and up to this point in her career she had lived this promise. But straight after the results of the Cape Town elections were posted, the ANC approached De Lille with an offer that must somewhere have made reference to her eternal soul. They offered her a place in their fold if she sided with them, and the two-faced liar turned on a dime. Like Anakin choosing the Dark Side, she broke off from the coalition and walked over to her sworn opposition, just like that.
It all came down to the vote for mayor. As no party had a clear majority, the mayor would be the power player in the council. It all seemed over for the DP, as Patricia de Lille now backed the ANC’s notoriously incompetent and corrupt incumbent mayor, the dim-witted Nomaindia Mfeketo. Yet when the votes were counted, the coalition had miraculously won by the smallest of margins - 106 votes for the DA’s candidate Helen Zille against 103 for Mfeketo. There were efforts by the ANC and ID to disrupt the voting, but the dye was cast.
And Patricia was left out in the cold, without an ideological house to call her home. She tried everything to reverse the count, even calling for the city to be placed under provincial administration, but her lowly efforts were in vain. When the DA offered De Lille two seats in the 9-seat mayoral council, as would have been the case if De Lille had not betrayed the coalition, she responded with a demand for a change in government from the mayoral executive to the executive committee system, a move that would have excluded the smaller parties from the leadership fray.
At this late stage, having betrayed and been forgiven, she could not accept those who forgave her, because in them she could see what she no longer was: An honest human being.
And so the book closes on Patricia de Lille.
A face you can trust