De Lille left high and dry by city council drought vote

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Image: TREVOR SAMSON/Business Day

Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille lost her powers to deal with Cape Town’s water crisis on Friday.

The city council vote to curtail De Lille’s influence in managing the drought response came after the DA federal executive instructed its Cape Town caucus to put deputy mayor Ian Neilson and mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg in charge instead.

Despite De Lille’s objection during the council meeting‚ most of the DA caucus voted in favour of the change‚ proposed by Neilson in amendments to delegated powers.

Addressing the council‚ De Lille said due process had not been followed. “When any delegations are reviewed‚ there must be a reason because that will then inform the delegations task team as to why‚” she said.

“That’s why I am saying I am questioning just the process and that I feel that because due process was not followed before this amendment came before council that it is reviewable.

“Lastly‚ I have not been consulted as the executive mayor since this is directly related to me.”

During the heated council meeting‚ the ANC also objected to the move and and said the amendments were being snuck in by Neilson during debate on the introduction of punitive water tariffs.

“The item before us deals with water tariffs and the deputy mayor has made a proposal in terms of the amendments but if you look at the proposed amendments‚ [they have] nothing to do with what is before us‚” said the ANC caucus leader‚ Xolani Sotashe.

He said the amendments were about DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s instruction that De Lille’s powers should be curtailed.

“We are not defending an individual here but we are standing for a principle‚” said Sotashe‚ adding that the council could not be a rubber-stamping authority for DA decisions.

Despite the protests‚ Speaker Dirk Smit called for a vote and Neilson’s proposal passed. The amendments also remove Craig Kesson‚ executive director of De Lille’s office‚ as chairman of the city council water resilience task team.

During the meeting‚ the city decided to formally drop its drought levy proposal and replace it with punitive tariffs‚ as announced by De Lille on Thursday.

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