DA expulsion on cards for De Lille after she survives council vote

Patricia de Lille.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille might soon have to defend her DA membership after she survived a vote of no-confidence by a whisker on Thursday.

The party’s Western Cape leader‚ Bonginkosi Madikizela‚ said shortly after the council sitting: “The only option now‚ seeing that she does no longer want to be a member of the party‚ is to look at whether she is fit to be a member of the party.”

Madikizela said the DA would also continue with its internal disciplinary process against De Lille.

“It must be understood that this was one of the approaches that we are following as a party. I am sure you are aware that the serious allegations against the mayor are now with our federal legal commission‚” said Madikizela. “We continue with that particular process.”

Only 109 councillors voted in favour of the motion at a special council meeting on Thursday‚ even though the DA has 154 of the 231 council seats. Votes against totalled 110. Earlier‚ De Lille walked out of the meeting when speaker Dirk Smit refused to allow a secret ballot. De Lille said Smit’s decision was unlawful and she would take it on legal review.

On Wednesday‚ in the High Court in Cape Town‚ Judge Robert Henney ruled that Smit must use his discretion to ensure that councillors could vote with their conscience.

One of the issues that got De Lille hot under the collar was a letter DA lawyers sent to Smit after the judgment. The mayor said this was highly irregular and claimed Smit had adopted the stance expressed by the DA.

“The DA disagrees with court’s judgment‚” said the letter from law firm Minde Shapiro & Smith.

“In its view‚ the court granted relief that was not pleaded‚ and this is directly contrary to the council’s rules‚ and your decision that the council should decide whether the vote should be secret. The DA reserves its right to appeal this judgment‚ which seriously erodes separation of powers.”

De Lille took the legal route after Suzette Little‚ chairman of the DA caucus in the city council‚ told her that DA federal executive chairman James Selfe “was of the opinion that in terms of the DA’s constitution all caucus members are bound by the caucus decision [to support the motion]‚ even those who did not vote for it”.

The DA accuses the mayor of a number offences‚ including corruption and maladministration. It has also opened a criminal case against her. In turn‚ she has accused the DA leadership of bullying.

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