DA must back or sack De Lille: Leon

Tony Leon, former DA leader, greets President Jacob Zuma.

Former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon says that the spat over the mayoralty of Patricia de Lille in Cape Town – where Leon also lives – must come swiftly to an end as it is doing inordinate damage to the DA

Leon now chairs a business and government advisory company after retiring from parliament more than ten years ago.  He put it bluntly on eNCA: “Either the party (the DA) needs to back her, or sacks her.”

“I don’t know when and how they are going to reach that decision. You cannot carry out this public drawn-out process which undermines the party and its processes… I think it undermines the citizens of Cape Town. I am one of them… we are sitting (through) a severe drought,” said Leon, who was leader of the opposition in the national assembly from 1999 to 2007.

He said his experience as a party leader – he led the Democratic Party from 1994 and the Democratic Alliance from 2000 to 2007 – showed that “when a party starts factionalising and fighting in public or even in private… around positions… around personalities, that is not good.

“What the Democratic Aliance, Patricia de Lille and the City of Cape Town caucus needs to do (is) to close ‘this thing down’,” said Leon.

The leaders of the City needed to be focused on the essential tasks at hand.

“I am not saying that Patricia is not focused on those tasks. But I think the public needs to be reassured sooner rather than later that the City government is going to be proceeding in a manner that underlines public confidence in it,” he suggested.

From a broader DA perspective, Leon argued that  – whatever the merits or demerits of this dispute might be – the ANC had a different and more positive picture facing it.

“They (the ANC) have a very different national political picture in January as opposed to early December.   (ANC president) Cyril Ramaphosa’s election.. has fundamentally changed the position of the (Democratic Alliance) party and it has to be very tactically smart to react to this new reality… having a fight in the flagship city of Cape Town is not a good way to start the new year.”

Also on eNCA, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said that the party’s processes need to take their course. A decision on de Lille would be made after due consideration, he said.

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