The 6th of March 2023 saw Patricia de Lille leave her post as Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure to become South Africa’s new Minister of Tourism. The tourism industry broadly praised the appointment of De Lille to replace departing minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
De Lille was born in 1951 in Beaufort West, in the Western Cape. She joined the South African Chemical Workers Union while working as a lab technician, and through time she advanced to the point where she was elected to the national executive in 1983.
She was elected National Vice-President of the National Council of Trade Unions in 1988, the highest position for a woman in the trade union movement at the time.
Additionally, she was chosen to serve on the Pan Africanist Movement’s NEC. She served as the head of the delegation during the constitutional negotiations that preceded South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, and from the time she was elected as a member of parliament for the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), she presided over the Parliamentary Committee on Transport.
She was ranked number 22 among the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004. She received recognition for spearheading the demand for a probe into allegations of wrongdoing in the so-called “Arms Deal,” in which South Africa bought weaponry from the UK and other European nations.
In 2003, De Lille created and became the leader of the Independent Democrats (ID). The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s recognized opposition party, and the ID united in August 2010.
Prior to being chosen as Cape Town’s mayor in 2012, she served as the Western Cape Province’s Minister of Social Development from 2010 to 2011. In the 2016 local government elections, she was re-elected for a second term, which she would hold until 2018. She also held the position of DA provincial leader at this time.
De Lille managed numerous significant tourism-related projects while serving as mayor, including the 2016 inauguration of the wildly successful Cape Town Air Access project and the massive reconstruction of the Cape Town Cruise Terminal between 2014 and 2018.
In December of that year, she founded a new political party called GOOD after leaving her position as mayor in October 2018. She was later named the country’s Minister of Infrastructure and Public Works.
She has also held positions on a number of parliamentary portfolio committees, including those for trade and industry, communications, health, minerals and energy, and rules and ethics.