ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula says his party may not be able to turn Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille away if she leaves the Democratic Alliance (DA).
“If the DA does not know they are throwing a good love away now, they will know soon,” Mbalula told journalists at a press briefing on Monday.
“She has given us a tough time in this metro,” Mbalula added, crediting her with the doubling the DA’s support in the Cape.
De Lille is currently facing an internal motion of no confidence by the DA, and if it succeeds the party could, with the permission of the federal executive, invoke the “De Lille Clause” which allows party members in executive office to be removed or forced to resign.
For Mbalula, De Lille has been a “hard worker” who has seen the DA’s popularity in the Cape rise.
“Why would I reject such a beautiful person?,” he said.
The ANC has now set its sights on the Western Cape come 2019. The party announced veteran and former Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool as its election head in the province, and Mbabula has been deployed to Cape Town.
Part of the party’s optimism that it can “reclaim” the province in 2019 is because it says the DA is “imploding”.
“We are going to take Maimane on for running this city [of Cape Town] like a banana,” Mbalula said. “It is illegal what he is doing.”
According to Mbalula, Maimane’s intervention in leading the water crisis response in the Cape is in contravention of laws which state that the provincial or local government should take control of disaster response. Maimane stepped in to take over the water crisis earlier this year, after De Lille was taken off the task team that was previously in charge.
“He likes opening cases. We are going to open one against him,” Mbalula said of Maimane.
On Monday the ANC said that Rasool had allegedly warned the DA of the drought, but that the party had mismanaged the water crisis. Its governance, Rasool said, had also been compromised in its attempts to remove De Lille.
“Council elected her and only council has the power to remove her,” Rasool said.
De Lille has said that she is not yet planning to leave the DA, opting to instead remain in the party and hold on to her office. She is facing two separate disciplinary hearings in the DA, both indefinitely postponed, and this new motion of no confidence.
In this quagmire of governance controversy and allegations that the drought has been mismanaged, the ANC is confident it can gain more support in the province as it campaigns for the 2019 elections.
“I believe if the moment is there for the ANC [to reclaim the province], it is now,” Rasool said.