Defiant De Lille hits back at critics

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Hitting back at her critics, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille yesterday warned that she has faced tougher opposition in the past.

This comes after recent media reports criticising De Lille’s “authoritarian” leadership style. One local newspaper headlined her as the Iron Lady, in reference to deceased UK leader Margaret Thatcher.

De Lille did not hold back in her weekly newsletter distributed yesterday.

“And so to these critics I say this: I can take constructive criticism. But I have also defied the odds of braver critics than you, ones I fought face-to-face and I have done so as a woman who has proudly worked hard for everything I have,” said De Lille.

She also said: “I am disappointed but not surprised by the way I have been portrayed in the media of late. It is not the first time… I was called ‘aggressive.’ But the rules to succeed in politics do not change whether you are a man or woman.”

“Recently, however, I have been called ‘intolerant’ and am supposed to have an ‘iron-grip.’ I apparently run ‘roughshod’ over people and thereby allegedly compromise the integrity of due process and apparently make flawed decisions.”

De Lille said she knew all about “these caricatures”.

“You can say what you like about me; you can whisper behind my back; you can start however many rumours you like but know this: I will not stop the work I have been entrusted to do because some nameless cowards try and reduce me to some kind of stereotype,” she said.

“I have a job to do and a mandate to fulfil from 61% of the city’s population.”

De Lille said as a woman she realised that early she would need to “fight against hundreds of years of learned patriarchal behavior”. She said as a result of fighting “women sometimes get portrayed differently”.

“I have experienced this throughout my career,” she said.

She also reflected that not all women are able to control what happens to them.

“Of course, sometimes we are not strong enough to prevent everything happening to us. This was the sad truth for my sister, who was raped and murdered,” she said.

“But in this patriarchal society, we owe it to ourselves to fight – even to the point where people claim that you have lost your femininity.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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