Embattled Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille attended an EFF-sponsored Winnie Madikizela-Mandela memorial in her capacity as the struggle icon's friend to pay tribute – not to take a jab at the DA.
De Lille has come under fire for delivering a speech at the memorial without informing the DA, which now wants an explanation from her.
She would not comment directly, but her spokesperson, Xolani Koyana, said De Lille regarded Madikizela-Mandela as a sister.
"The mayor does not want to allow the fact that she attended the memorial service ... arranged by the EFF to become a media side issue to the fact that she was paying tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela," Koyana said.
"[De Lille] has respect for Mama Winnie, who was a close friend and regarded as a sister. She is a former special colleague of Mama Winnie, and she went to pay her respects in that capacity."
Well done to Patricia De Lille for being true to her old friend Winnie Mandela and paying a sincere tribute at #WinnieMemorial.— Simon Grindrod (@SimonPGrindrod) April 11, 2018
De Lille is a stateswoman whilst others are just lightweight politicians. #EFFWinnieMemorial #DeLille #WinnieMandelaMemorial https://t.co/JQnsOuf91u
The DA and the EFF have been at loggerheads since the DA chose, in compliance with its party constitution and policy, not to support the red berets' parliamentary motion seeking land expropriation without compensation. The EFF hit back with a motion of no confidence in the DA's Nelson Mandela Bay metro mayor, Athol Trollip (a motion which has been suspended indefinitely at this point).
The DA and De Lille have also been locked in battle, ever since an internal report made findings of corruption against her and disciplinary processes were initiated.
Earlier, DA national spokesperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe said the party was not aware that De Lille was speaking at the event. Nt'sekhe maintained that the party had no problem with De Lille attending the memorial service, but took issue because she had not notified the DA that she intended to do so.
"The problem is not with De Lille attending; it is with her not following protocol. Even if she attended in her personal capacity, it was her duty to inform the party, and she would have known this," Nt'sekhe told HuffPost.
"We are asking that De Lille come forward and explain herself as to why she attended without notifying the party. De Lille had a good relationship with [Madikizela-Mandela], and this is respected. De Lille is well-suited to speak at the memorial."