Maimane wishes De Lille well and will 'hold her accountable like any other person'

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DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (AP)
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (AP)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has wished former party member Patricia de Lille well in her appointment as Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, but adds that she will be held to account like any other person.

De Lille left the DA, which she has since called "a bunch of blue liars", after months of acrimony when she resigned as mayor of Cape Town in October last year. Shortly thereafter, she founded the Good party, which won two seats in the National Assembly in the May 8 elections.

President Cyril Ramaphosa seemingly caught most South Africans off guard when he announced that she was appointed a member of his Cabinet. Speaking at the parliamentary precinct on Wednesday evening shortly after Ramaphosa's announcement, Maimane said: "First and foremost, I wish her well. She is now part of the ANC's cabinet and she must serve in that."

He referred to a Sunday Times story in May 2018, which stated that the ANC offered De Lille an ambassadorship.

"This seems second best. But I cannot confirm that," he added. "My focus now is to say we'll hold her accountable like any other person."

In a statement, De Lille said she was "honoured and humbled" by the appointment.

Joining with 'open eyes and ears'

"I have fought for justice in our country for more than 40 years and have no plans to give up fighting. I pledge to continue the struggle for dignity and fairness for all South Africans."

She thanked her colleagues in the Good party and everyone who voted for the party.

"I will continue to lead Good and to fight for a responsible, accountable and compassionate government."

She said she would be joining Ramaphosa's executive with "open eyes and ears as a representative of good South Africans of integrity who love their country and demand better of their leaders".

"It is time for South Africans to demonstrate that we can rise above party political differences."

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said De Lille's inclusion was a surprise. He likened it to the inclusion of NFP leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi in former president Jacob Zuma's executive as a deputy minister.

"You should ask yourself the question: [Was] there some support behind the scenes in the election for the Good party and appointing Patricia de Lille as a minister?"

In 2009, Zuma appointed Groenewald's predecessor, Pieter Mulder, as a deputy minister.

'We are opening our hands'

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina seemed impressed by Ramaphosa's selection of De Lille.

"To bring in Mama Patricia de Lille, it shows we are opening our hands, we want to embrace all South Africans. Let's build our country, let's build our nation. We are doing exactly that."

In a statement, Good's secretary general Brett Herron said the party supported De Lille's appointment to the Cabinet, but it would remain an opposition party.

"Our Good leader has been asked to serve our country and we can only respond by saying a good person has been asked to do something," Herron said in a statement.

"The president has recognised the commitment and track record of a great South African and we support her appointment and the contribution she's been asked to make."

He said Good would remain an opposition party in the National Assembly and the provincial legislature, where he serves as an MPL.

"We will continue to offer our support where our government does what's right, our solutions where we see they're needed and our exposure of anything that is wrong, corrupt or unjust."

He said South Africa was at a critical time in its development trajectory.

"We are on the precipice of failure. It is time for all South Africans to do what it takes to fix South Africa. Appointing a Cabinet that includes a doer like Patricia de Lille is a good first step.

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