Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille announced that she is launching a new party to contest the 2019 elections, November 18 2018. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAYTIMES
Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille announced that she is launching a new party to contest the 2019 elections, November 18 2018. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAYTIMES

In the first big split from the DA since its formation, former senior leader and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says she will  launch a new political party.

The yet-to-be named party, which will contest the national elections in 2019, will focus on cities and towns where the former mayor says the country’s potential lies.

This is the first time a senior DA leader has formed a new political party following a resignation. De Lille resigned from her position as mayor and from the DA in October after a fallout with the party over governance issues in Cape Town spanning almost two years. Eight councillors resigned in solidarity.

Speaking in Cape Town on Sunday, the 67-year-old veteran politician told journalists that she still had enough “energy” left in her to embark on a “new political order” in the country.

“I will be launching a new political party which will contest the 2019 national elections. We will put people before politics. We will be on the ground. We will build a better country for the next generations. We will look after families and educate our children. We will be a party of action and less talk and clean up our politics and country of corruption,” she said.

De Lille is familiar with the challenges of starting a new political entity, having founded the Independent Democrats in 2003, which merged with the DA in 2010.

She said that during her recent struggles with the DA,  which have seen her take to the courts to defend her position, it became “clear that the project agreed to with Helen Zille was no longer underpinned by the values I believe in and on which the DA campaigns”.

She is expecting a “dirty tricks campaign” meant to discredit her, she said.

Somadoda Fikeni, a professor at the University of SA, told Business Day that De Lille’s long-standing record dating back to freedom struggle days will stand her in good stead. He said her national profile and existing constituency will make all the difference in whether the party, to be launched in January 2019, would make a dent in the trajectory of the country’s politics.

Fikeni said De Lille has the potential to chip away at some of the DA’s support base. “It is probable that her focus may be on the DA to expose them for what she says are their issues in terms of race relations, and so on.

“The DA should be concerned about such inclinations because she may then present herself as the direct contestant, especially when it comes to the Western Cape coloured constituencies and some black people in townships. The DA ought to be concerned about some of the voters being chipped away,” he said.

De Lille said that she commissioned a study from market research company Ipsos on the viability of a new political movement, and that her decision was based on evidence.

The party’s name and logo are expected to be announced in two weeks' time.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za