I welcome DA charges‚ says relieved Cape Town mayor De Lille

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

Patricia de Lille says she welcomes the charges levelled at her on Sunday by the DA.

Speaking to eNCA after party leader Mmusi Maimane said she would be investigated and prosecuted by the federal legal council‚ De Lille said: “I look forward to defending myself and to working with the federal legal council to get the proceedings over as soon as possible.

“I will be dealing with each and every count against me by providing witnesses and evidence.”

Announcing the outcome of Sunday’s federal executive discussion on De Lille’s future‚ party leader Maimane said De Lille’s handling of the drought in Cape Town had fallen short of the standards the party expected of her.

For this reason‚ she would play no further part in handling the drought. She would be charged with:

- Acting in a manner that has impacted negatively on the party;

- Failing to carry out her duties to the standard required by the party and by legislation;

- Bringing the party into disrepute;

- Acting in a manner that is unreasonable and detrimental to internal co-operation;

- Unreasonably failing to comply with official decisions of the party.

Maimane said the DA caucus in the City of Cape Town would be asked to pass a resolution preventing the mayor having anything to do with managing the city council’s response to the drought.

He said this was the biggest challenge facing the city‚ and the DA could not afford to have the waters muddied by the row over De Lille’s future.

The resolution would make deputy mayor Ian Neilson and mayoral committee member for water Xanthea Limberg responsible for control of the drought response‚ alongside officials.

Earlier this year De Lille sidelined Limberg and seized control of the drought response‚ telling the Sunday Times she was spending up to 70% of her time on the matter. She also stopped the council media team communicating about the drought and insisted all queries were handled by her spokesman‚ Zara Nicholson.

Another resolution the caucus would be asked to pass‚ said Maimane‚ would be to dismantle the centralised system of control De Lille has created and “restore proper decision-making processes”.

The federal executive heard a half-hour submission from De Lille on Sunday morning and spent the rest of the day discussing how to handle what a sub-committee report said was “a state of crisis and turmoil‚ both politically and administratively‚ in the City of Cape Town”.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane formally charged Cape Town’s mayor Patricia de Lille on Sunday evening. De Lille is facing an investigation by the party’s federal legal commission.

The sub-committee‚ chaired by parliamentary chief whip John Steenhuisen‚ was brutal in its criticism of De Lille. It said her leadership style had become “extremely problematic for the successful functioning of both the administration and her caucus”.

De Lille’s refusal to testify in front of the committee had left it “with the distinct impression that the mayor clearly has something to hide”.

Its report added: “The mayor appears to take any dissenting view as a personal attack on herself and her leadership‚ and she responds accordingly.”

Maimane said the Steenhuisen report had uncovered “deep divisions in the caucus as a result of the mayor’s style” and a “paralysing culture of fear” among DA councillors and officials.

It had found evidence that she had centralised control in her office to an excessive degree‚ interfered with and manipulated senior appointments‚ and practised an irrational‚ autocratic and divisive leadership style.

One of the risks the council faced as a result of the “intolerable working conditions” that had developed on De Lille’s watch as mayor was the impending loss of skilled staff and technicians.

Maimane added that the federal executive had also taken into account the findings of an independent report‚ commissioned by the City of Cape Town‚ and delivered on December 29 by lawyers Bowman Gilfillan.

It had recommended further investigation of De Lille for gross misconduct‚ gross dereliction of duty and for misleading the council. These allegations relate to her alleged cover-up of significant financial losses in the MyCiTi bus system‚ and alleged misconduct by Cape Town transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead.

Maimane said the investigation into De Lille must run its course‚ but the mayor must be prepared to take “ultimate political responsibility”.

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