15/01/2018 15:32 SAST | Updated 23/01/2018 13:10 SAST

Ferial Haffajee Outlines De Lille Implications For DA

"There was big political culture clash in the DA, which they're going to have to iron out now."

Charles Platiau / Reuters
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille speaks during a two-day summit of the C40 Cities initiative, a network of cities making plans to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions along levels agreed upon in Paris two years ago, in Paris, France, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille has been formally charged with misconduct by the Democratic Alliance (DA). A leaked 34-page report written by John Steenhuisen (the DA's chief whip and federal executive member), reveals that De Lille's leadership has been divisive and has caused tensions within the political party –– and as such, has had serious ramifications for its members.

The mayor is formally being charged and investigated by the party's federal legal commission (FLC).

Ferial Haffajee shed some light on what the implications of this report and what the federal executive's investigation could mean for the DA.

READ: Here Is What Patricia De Lille Is Being Charged With

Q: What are the implications for the DA ahead of 2019?

A: It is a double blow for the DA that two of its most significant figures -- not just significant women figures –– two of its most significant politicians, Helen Zille and Patricia De Lille, have been in such trouble that both of them have faced -- and De Lille is still facing -- expulsion from the party by its federal executive structure.

For a party that wants to be a party of government, what it's doing instead is fighting internal battles and factional battles -- in that sense, it's looking very much like the ANC.

AFP/Getty Images
Democratic Alliance Leader Mmusi Maimane (L) and DA Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille (R) lead thousands of South African main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters marching to the Constitutional Court to protest against South African President Jacob Zuma on April 15, 2016 in Johannesburg. South African municipal elections are set to be contested on August 3. / AFP / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Q: This is a distraction from the DA getting buy-in from the public, to regain the public trust -- could this situation translate into the political party losing prospective voters/followers?

A: The DA has always won support by projecting itself as a very organised, disciplined party of cadres who toe the party line and who are very invested in building a good society. Instead, now if you look at the 34-page document drawn up by Steenhuisen's subcommittee of the DA federal executive, it's looking like a scrappy, messy, normal political party.

How it manages those tensions, factions and politics -- (which are) always involved as you get bigger -- is perhaps a much bigger challenge than Mmusi Maimane may have expected –– because they've only been invested in polling and planning what they're going to do in 2019. And their plan there is to take three provinces [in which] they have got all these metros that they won in 2016.

In 2019, they have this very ambitious plan to win three provinces and generally begin to build up as a party of government –– I think that ambition has been dealt a severe blow.

Q: What does this mean for De Lille's career -- as an individual as well as a prominent political leader?

A: I'm extremely surprised about where Patricia De Lille finds herself -- she is an astute politician, from the Pan Africanist Congress to the Independent Democrats, to her time in the DA. She's been a very successful and well-loved politician.

She aggrandised too much power in her own office, and I think she began to believe too much her own PR of being brand Patricia -- rather than being a servant of the people...

READ: The DA Could Lose Cape Town Through De Lille's Mismanagement – Report

I think somewhere in the past two years, she's failed at the political management of self -- in that one must think of where one's political career is headed -- and you must have people who tell you the truth.

When looking at the report, it's very clear to me that she stopped doing that. She aggrandised too much power in her own office, and I think she began to believe too much her own PR of being brand Patricia -- rather than being a servant of the people, and a committed party member who accedes to the principles and the methods set out by the party.

READ: Patricia De Lille And The Battle For The Soul Of Cape Town

Q: Does the public have differing views on whether or not De Lille is being victimised or targeted by the DA's leadership?

A: I do think she's faced a largely white-boys' bully-club in Cape Town –– and if you read carefully, they've been out to get her for a long time.

And there's probably a bit of cultural clash there -- like Anglo-Saxon/Afrikaans values versus a strong African woman with a loud voice, who insists on her own territory, her own turf, her own style of doing things. It didn't sit very comfortably with what is frankly still a white old-boys' club... An Anglo-Saxon, and of late Afrikaans culture in practice.

So, I do think there was big political culture clash in the DA, which they're going to have to iron out now.