Auntie Pat makes good in Salt River as she targets Western Cape

Patricia de Lille. Picture: Adrian de Kock/Netwerk24/Gallo Images
Patricia de Lille. Picture: Adrian de Kock/Netwerk24/Gallo Images

It is 6.37am when the former mayor of Cape Town arrives at the Salt River train station.

Ever practical, Patricia de Lille wears jeans, sneakers, a shocking-orange T-shirt with the Good logo and a black cap.

An old RV-style camper van is parked on the side of the road, bright with the Good commitment to “Fix SA” and loud with the sounds of nostalgic music – Mafikizolo’s Udakwa Njalo is blaring from the speakers and bouncing off the walls of the once brightly coloured homes.

The paint is now peeling away, revealing mud-filled cracks from years of neglect.

At this stage only eight volunteers are present and have gathered in a circle dancing to a song, Mama Patricia, Mama Patricia de Lille.

Some hold on to small travel mugs as they do an awkward jive, as if to emphasise that it is too early to be here.

A man driving by in an old Toyota Avanza stops to ask where he can get his car detailed with the Good colours and logo.

Every second person stops to greet Auntie Pat and ask for a picture, the volunteers are thrusting orange pamphlets at anyone who will take them.

“Is jy in?” one volunteer asks a passerby, after making a quick pitch.

“Ek’s in, ja,” the woman says excitedly.

Most of the interactions are like this – it is like a family reunion; most people appear to be excited to see their auntie.

By 7.15am not a single train has arrived and the group is forced to make do with those jumping on and off buses and taxis, as well as the street vendors whose day is also off to a slow start, given that the trains are not coming in.

Metrorail responds to a tweet, saying that there are no trains because of a “signal equipment power failure”.

The failures of Metrorail are becoming the norm in the city and across the province where about 620 000 people make use of the rail system, accounting for about 48% of commuter traffic.

In 2017 the provincial legislature reportedly heard that there had been a 400% increase in train cancellations in just two years.

Auntie Pat’s people remain undeterred, however, by the lack of people to engage with; they continue to shout an overly enthusiastic “GOOD morning!” to anyone who will listen.

She stops to speak to a street vendor who offers her a warm hug and good news for the new party wanting to secure some votes.

“Ek gaan kom join jou,” the woman, ironically decked out in blue, tells Auntie Pat excitedly, her eyes widening behind round frames as she accepts one of the orange pamphlets.

“Ose hele familie was ali tyd DA, maar os moet ’n change maak want hulle doen niks vir os nie [Our whole family was always DA, but we must make a change because they are doing nothing for us].”

De Lille, who parted ways with the DA in a messy divorce in October last year, was all too happy to indulge in the bashing of her former party.

“Ja nee hulle gebruik ons mense vir stemme, is al. Ek meen, die rede hulle vir my wou uitgooi daar is dat ek seker gemaak het dat ek kyk na ose mense [They use our people for votes, that’s all. The reason they wanted to throw me out there was that I made sure that I looked after our people),” she responds.

“Kyk hulle lyk mos nie die waarheid nie,” the vendor says with familiarity.

In a smooth display of her political know-how, De Lille asks the woman to keep a “koeksister” to the side for her which she will come back to pay for later.

“Dis die laste pakkie, dis ’n blessing, dankie,” she says, refusing payment.

“Baie dankie, ek het ’n soet tand,” De Lille says with a laugh, making as if to open the small parcel before turning around and handing it to her communications manager.

Meanwhile three volunteers, in keeping with the family reunion theme, have begun an electric slide dance in the street but no one is joining in.

Good is targeting three provinces in its maiden elections, De Lille tells me – Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape.

She is not worried about the DA which she says has been busy with a dirty tricks campaign.

“The Democratic Alliance is telling people not to vote for smaller parties which, you know, is a big contradiction. They are hypocrites because the Constitution allows for anybody to vote for a political party of their choice.

“They are so against small parties because they think that people must just support them. Being a big old political party does not equate to quality of leadership.

“They can be bigger but they have got weak leadership, and a weak leadership that has just been complaining and moaning,” she says, competing with the sound of people rushing to work, traffic building up in the streets and Brenda Fassie coming from the Good camper.

The DA’s internal polls earlier this year indicated that Good would garner a mere 1% to 4% of the vote in the Western Cape, which they say does not give them sleepless nights.

At the height of the war between the party and De Lille, support for the DA had dipped to below 50%.

“We can’t do a comparison poll because it is our first year of existence, but the polls that we have been doing show that, here in the Western Cape, we can get between 10% and 15% support, of which the bulk is here in the metro because 70% of the voters live here, but we’re also doing work outside,” De Lille said, contradicting the single-digit figure.


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