Hout Bay split over De Lille’s survival

Patricia De Lille

Patricia de Lille’s retention as Cape Town mayor has been welcomed by a number of community leaders in Hout Bay, although others feel she has not been a success as the Mother City’s first citizen.

Last Thursday, February 15, Ms De Lille retained her position as mayor after a failed motion of no confidence was tabled. She survived the motion by one vote, thanks in the main to the support of opposition parties in council.

DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela, who had been widely tipped to become mayor in the event of the motion succeeding, said it was important to note than 75% of the DA caucus voted in favour to remove Ms De Lille.

“This means she in effect is governing without a party mandate. This is a serious undermining of the DA and the values and the electoral mandate which we were given by the people of Cape Town. This then brings into serious question whether it can be said that the mayor has the mandate of the electorate which voted for the DA,” Mr Madikizela said.

The mayor was a key figure in respect of events in Hout Bay last year, including making arrangements in the wake of the devastating fire that tore through Imizamo Yethu, leaving thousands homeless, as well as the subsequent decision to establish temporary relocation areas and “superblock” the settlement to roll out services.

She was also criticised for retreating from the housing protests in July after receiving a police intelligence report that it would not be safe to address protesters.

In addition, more than 2 000 people marched to her offices in the Cape Town CBD to protest about how the housing situation in Imizamo Yethu was being handled.

However, as the formal Imizamo Yethu housing project and TRAs were established, so tensions eased with Ms De Lille finding favour with several community leaders.

Samkelo “Gary” Krweqe, the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) chairperson for the area, said it was a “good thing” that Ms De Lille had been retained.

“She has been a great help to the Hout Bay community. Having her removed would have been a step backwards for us,” Mr Krweqe said.

“She has helped us with the housing project and when we speak to her about water issues or fires, she always listens to us.”

Mr Krweqe was among a group of people who gathered at the High Court to support Ms De Lille last week prior to the motion being tabled. She had approached the court to argue that DA councillors should be able to vote with their conscience and in secret.

Judge Robert Henney ruled it was up to Speaker Dirk Smit to decide on the secret ballot, and ultimately it was not the case.

Community leader Kenny Tokwe was also pleased that Ms De Lille had survived the motion.

“Ms De Lille was voted in to provide service delivery which she has done, so I’m not sure why this motion was tabled. Maybe it was to protect the white DA members, those ‘not in my backyard’ neighbours who don’t want development on their doorstep,” he said.

However, Len Swimmer, chairperson of the Hout Bay Residents’ andRatepayers’Association, deemed the mayor’s retention as “bad news”.

“She is a political appointee by the DA, that is all. The people voted for the party, not her. If the opposition parties hadn’t voted for her, she wouldn’t have got in,” he said.

“The DA should get rid of her without further fuss, as it is clear she’s only concerned about her own income and is not concerned about the people who voted for the DA.”

Jan Lewis, chairperson of the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF), was adamant that Ms De Lille was the right person for the job.

“She is the only one who puts pressure on officials to do their job. We want to move forward with the HiDA (Hangberg Informal Development Area) and Sloot housing projects, and she will help us to do that,” Mr Lewis said.

“It would have been a big miss for us if she was no longer there. She’s really hands-on, and we applaud her for her commitment to integrated development in Hout Bay.”

Request for comment from the mayor was not responded to at the time this edition went to print.