Patricia de Lille

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Patricia de Lille
Patricia de Lille.jpg
33rd Mayor of Cape Town
Assumed office
1 June 2011
Preceded by Dan Plato
Western Cape Provincial Minister of Social Development
In office
22 September 2010 – 31 May 2011
Premier Helen Zille
Preceded by Ivan Meyer
Succeeded by Albert Fritz
Leader of the Independent Democrats
In office
April 2003 – May 2014
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Position Abolished
Member of Parliament
In office
May 1994 – September 2010
Personal details
Born (1951-02-17) 17 February 1951 (age 66)
Beaufort West, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
Nationality South African
Political party Democratic Alliance (2010– )
Other political
Independent Democrats (2003–2010), Pan Africanist Congress (1987–2003)
Profession Journalist, Politician

Patricia de Lille (born 17 February 1951) is a South African politician and Mayor of Cape Town.[1] She was the founder and the leader of the Independent Democrats, a South African political party which she formed in 2003 during a floor-crossing window. On 15 August 2010, the ID merged with the Democratic Alliance, South Africa's official opposition, and de Lille took on dual party membership until her party was fully dissolved in May 2014.

On 14 March 2011, De Lille beat Grant Pascoe, Shehaam Sims and incumbent Dan Plato to become the DA's mayoral candidate in Cape Town, ahead of the 2011 local government elections. She was declared the mayor-elect by the IEC on 20 May 2011.[2]

De Lille was voted 22nd in the Top 100 Great South Africans, and is noted for her role in investigations into the country's controversial Arms Deal.


De Lille at the Nelson Mandela memorial concert at the Cape Town Stadium in 2013

De Lille was born in 1951 in Beaufort West, and attended Bastiaanse Hoërskool.[3] In 1974 she became a laboratory technician at a factory. She remained involved with the same company until 1990.[3] During this time, she became involved in the South African Chemical Workers Union, starting off as a shop steward and then becoming regional secretary, before being elected to National Executive Member in 1983.[3] In 1988 she was elected as National Vice-President of The National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU), the highest position for a woman in the trade union movement at that time.[citation needed]

In 1989 De Lille was elected onto the National Executive Committee of the Pan Africanist Movement (PAM). In 1994 she led a delegation in the constitutional negotiations that preceded South Africa's first democratic election in 1994, and was then appointed the position as Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport from 1994–1999. She also served on various portfolio Committees including Health, Minerals and Energy, Trade and Industry, Communications, the Rules Committee and the Code of Ethics.[3]

Later, she made use of parliamentary privilege to be a whistle-blower on the South African Arms Deal.


Arms Deal[edit]

De Lille led the call for an investigation into alleged corruption in South Africa's purchase of weapons costing £4bn from British and other European manufacturers (that cost has soared on the basis of foreign currency collapses to more than its original cost although the Rand £ and Rand $ exchange rates have now reduced the costs to almost the same level as the original cost.). The government rejected De Lille's calls for an independent inquiry to be led by Judge Willem Heath. De Lille said she was accused of being unpatriotic and embarrassing the country as a consequence of her efforts to investigate the Arms Deal."[4]

On 5 April 2009, the Independent Democrats confirmed De Lille's attendance at the announcement of the National Prosecuting Authority the following day regarding its decision either to drop or to maintain its case against ANC President Jacob Zuma, who had been implicated in the Arms Deal. In an op-ed for The Sunday Times, De Lille predicted that the charges would be dropped:

Am I angry? Of course I am angry. I am angry because the majority of our people are not seeing the warning signs that are coming from the ANC, a liberation party that has no respect for the Constitution and the rule of law and is prepared to erode both just so that one man can become the leader of our country.

By letting these ANC crooks off the hook we are sending entirely the wrong message to our people. Government is saying that there is a way out for those who break the law.[5]

On the morning of the NPA's much-awaited announcement, De Lille was turned away from proceedings, being told that, as a member of the public, she would have to find a television set.[6] Leader of the Democratic Alliance Helen Zille met with the same fate.[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

De Lille was awarded the Freedom of the City of Birmingham, Alabama,[citation needed] and in 2004 was awarded the honour of being one of the Top 5 Women in Government and Government Agencies.[citation needed] She was also awarded the 2004 Old Mutual South African Leadership Award in the Category of Woman Leadership.[8]

In July 2006 she was the first woman to be recognised as an Honorary Colonel in the South African National Defence Force.[9] In August 2006 she received the City Press and Rapport Newspaper award as one of top 10 women in South Africa.[10]

At the invitation of Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ms de Lille was the only South African Member of Parliament who attended the United Nations Millennium Project hosted by the Earth Institute at Columbia University.[citation needed] This high level meeting was convened on 17 September 2006 in New York.[citation needed]

A Markinor survey conducted in 2004 also found that De Lille was South Africa's favourite opposition politician at the time.[11]


During the 2004 general election, disgruntled former members of the Independent Democrats accused her of running the party in a "undemocratic" manner - in direct contrast with the image of transparency and accountability that she grounded her party on. De Lille told reporters that the dissenters had been fired from the party for fraud and corruption.[12]

As Mayor of Cape Town, de Lille has been perceived to have had a conflict of interest regarding the private sector developments by friends of hers in Clifton.[13]

Joining the DA[edit]

de Lille with DA Leader Helen Zille, 2010.

On 13 August 2010, after meetings with both the DA and ID executive, it was decided that the ID would indeed merge with the DA. On 15 August 2010, de Lille and DA Leader Helen Zille announced to the public that the ID would join the DA.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Dan Plato
Mayor of Cape Town
Preceded by
Ivan Meyer
Provincial Minister of Social Development (Western Cape)
Succeeded by
Albert Fritz
Party political offices
New political party Leader of the Independent Democrats
Succeeded by
Position Abolished
Party political offices