The Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille is in political trouble. She has been suspended from activities of the Democratic Alliance – the party which she adopted a while back. One needs to cut through the political noise and consider what exactly is the kernel of her troubles. The Cape Messenger editor believes that it is her own ‘Nkandla’ scandal which she needs to nip in the bud – otherwise she may end up like former mayor Peter Marais (see below)
Many will view it as opportunistic for Xolani Sotashe, the ANC caucus leader in the city of Cape Town, to make the call that De Lille should “pay back the money”. It is a delicious irony. There has been a blizzard of commentary indicating that this is hypocritical, given the hundreds of millions wasted on the real Nkandla by ANC leader, President Jacob Zuma.
But Sotashe may well have a telling point. Let’s face it, the Leafy Pinelands scandal – relating to her private home – is nowhere as significant as Nkandla, the president’s palatial set of bungalows in a huge compound in his traditional area. It involves less than R500 000 spent on her security upgrades, including cameras and security doors.
The rest of the upgrade to the relatively-modest home – it is a home that I have visited many times – was paid for by the mayor herself. Well and good.
For city of Cape Town speaker Dirk Smit to accuse the opposition parties of spreading “lies” over the upgrade is a bit disingenuous to say the least. African Christian Democratic Party city caucus leader Grant Haskin – himself a former deputy mayor when the ACDP was in coalition with the DA – is correct. It is quite inappropriate for a mere council functionary, the speaker, to issue statements on the city’s Nkandla issue. He is not a member of the mayoral committee.
The mayor herself should be dealing with the fall-out of the mini-scandal. But the more she stays away from it, the more it will grow. One of my journalist colleagues noted that it may not seem like a scandal now, but then one needed to think of Peter Marais. Remember him? He was mayor of the city when the DA still included the National Party. He wanted to rename Adderley Street after Nelson Mandela and Wale Street after FW de Klerk.
He apparently diddled the numbers of the referendum, which turned against the idea. He found himself booted out of office by the then DA leader Tony Leon. (He bounced into the post of premier of the Western Cape thereafter……but that is another story).
At a time when the focus should fall on the rampant corruption of the ANC, the president and his coterie of thieves in the national government, this mini-scandal could deflect this national focus on state capture. One tends to agree that in the interests of world peace and in the interest of good governance, De Lille should pay the money back.
It is only R450 000 or so. That would be a sensible thing to do.