Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu has come to the defence of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who had appeared at the EFF's memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Wednesday.
De Lille was a guest speaker at an EFF rally, paying tribute to the veteran struggle icon who passed away last Monday in Johannesburg following an illness at the age of 81.
The rally was held in Brandfort in the Free State, the town Madikizela-Mandela was banished to in the mid-1970s.
De Lille's party, the Democratic Alliance, has since said it would be asking her for reasons why she attended, saying she had not informed the party beforehand, as was protocol.
Shivambu on Thursday claimed the DA’s request was "evidently [a] witch hunt by the lily white liberals".
"Free State DA provincial leader Patricia Komape and DA members in the Free State were at the memorial service as well," Shivambu reacted on Twitter.
"Patricia worked with Mama Winnie and it's within her right to pay tribute in an appropriate platform."
DA federal council chairperson James Selfe on Thursday told News24 the party did not have a problem with De Lille attending the rally for Madikizela-Mandela.
Rather, it was concerned that De Lille had not informed the party beforehand.
"On one level it's understandable that someone would want to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela," Selfe said.
"But on another level, it's a little bit worrying that the protocols in dealing with a situation when you appear on the platform of another party were not followed."
Selfe said there were other scenarios where politicians appeared on the platforms of other parties, but the individual would usually inform the party, which De Lille had not done, he said.
"We would have had no problem at all in [her] attending the rally to express condolences with the Madikizela family.
"It's just mystifying that we feel we have to issue a query about what the significance was."
Selfe conceded the party's current impasse with De Lille over her future as Cape Town mayor may have played a role in how the issue was communicated.
There now seemed to be a clear divide in responsibility between herself and the party, he remarked.
The party will therefore formally ask for an explanation as to her reasons for attending, he said.
De Lille meanwhile was unavailable to comment on the issue at the time of publication, telling News24 she was in a meeting.
Later on Thursday, she tweeted: "I will not succumb to making my attendance at an EFF event a side issue. I went to honour Mama Winnie.
"I have great respect for Mama Winnie, she was a close friend and I regarded her as a sister. She was a former special colleague of mine."
I will not succumb to making my attendance at an EFF event a side issue. I went to honour Mama Winnie. I have great respect for Mama Winnie, she was a close friend and I regarded her as a sister. She was a former special colleague of mine. https://t.co/qjylwAvP3W— Patricia de Lille (@PatriciaDeLille) April 12, 2018
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