12/01/2018 15:25 SAST | Updated 12/01/2018 16:52 SAST

'Open Warfare' Within DA Threatens Party's 2019 Election Campaign

Ongoing conflict in the political and administrative arenas plus the effects of the drought could be 'a toxic mix' to sink the DA's 2019 election prospects.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) federal executive subcommittee has warned that instability in the City of Cape Town poses a "danger" to their 2019 election campaign –– and that unless the party takes decisive action, it could lose support.

According to the federal executive's "Report of the subcommittee established to enquire into the tensions in the City of Cape Town", the party "is in state of crisis and turmoil".

Battle lines seem to have been drawn, and has been dubbed "open warfare" has broken out among
councillors in the DA caucus.

The report warns that ongoing conflict and instability in the political and administrative arenas, coupled with the effects of the drought, could present "a toxic mix that causes a massive electoral blowout at the polls in 2019".

HuffPost is in possession of the report, which also fingers Patricia de Lille as the epicentre of all the conflict.

While the suspended Cape Town mayor is labelled "extremely hard-working" and "dedicated to the city", her leadership style since the last election is closely scrutinised –– and she is called out for her "Luthuli House-style" management.

"Her leadership style since the last election has become extremely problematic for the successful functioning of both the administration and her caucus," the report claims.

De Lille has been making headlines since late last year, after reports of her suspension followed the party's inquiry into allegations ranging from mismanagement to corruption. She sought legal advice at the time, saying she did not know why she was being being investigated.

"Instead of attempting to process these and, through examination thereof, understand why there are such deep divisions and unhappy members in her caucus, she chooses to simply dismiss or deny them".

The document also accuses De Lille of having a dismissive nature.

"Caucus members have complained about the mayor's adversarial approach in caucus meetings. As well as her routine belittling and humiliation of her council colleagues, she dismisses this by essentially saying that they should toughen up and be more alive to the 'rough and tumble of the arena that they perform in'."

De Lille is said to be "irritated" by submissions made from members of the party caucus and her administration about the rifts within the municipality, instead of trying to understand why they are frustrated.

"Instead of attempting to process these and, through examination thereof, understand why there are such deep divisions and unhappy members in her caucus, she chooses to simply dismiss or deny them."

Her turbulent relationship with Alderman JP Smith is also highlighted in the document. After Smith had successfully been elected as the deputy leader of the Cape Town caucus, De Lille made it clear that she would not be working with him.

'For the mayor to indicate that she would not work with a person that she does not like sowed even further division in an already fractured caucus. This is a remarkably poor show of leadership."

The mayor is also quoted as saying none of the councillors would have been there if it weren't for her "brand" –– and the work of DA chief whip in the city, Shaun August, and transport and urban development mayoral committee member Brett Herron.

This attitude makes the subcommittee believe she thinks she is the driving force behind the party's success in their last campaign.

READ: Cape Town DA Wants Patricia De Lille Out

The subcommittee document also alleges that De Lille has had no regard for its function, and has instead accused members of leaking information to the media.

"Since the inception of its work, the subcommittee has been met with hostility, lack of cooperation and demands for the submissions of other members... the motives of the subcommittee have been called into question, and serious aspersions and accusations –– including unfounded allegations of leaking to the media –– have been cast on the subcommittee."

The committee slammed De Lille for seeking legal advice instead of attempting to solve the matter internally. Then she refused to appear before the committee to defend herself, which made it seem like she had "something to hide".