'I'm off to court': De Lille storms out after being denied secret ballot
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille walked out of a city council meeting called to decide her fate on Thursday.
De Lille’s departure came after speaker Dirk Smit refused to allow a secret ballot on the DA’s motion of no-confidence in her leadership.
The mayor said Smit’s decision was unlawful and said she would take it on legal review. “I will not be part of this unlawful [exercise]‚ I am leaving. I am going to court now‚” she said.
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.
De Lille had asked the court for the ruling 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 of no confidence]‚ even those who did not vote for it”.
After De Lille’s departure‚ the opposition ANC and EFF asked for an adjournment but Smit said the meeting would continue.
Earlier‚ the council meeting was interrupted when Smit ejected the ANC. This followed a request from ANC caucus leader Xolani Sotashe for a report on Smit’s investigation into De Lille’s claims of misconduct by members of the DA caucus.
De Lille claimed during the previous sitting that an attendance register was circulating among DA members calling for the special meeting.
Smit told Sotashe: “I asked those councillors but they denied it. I am waiting for affidavits.” But the ANC demanded the names of the councillors involved and began singing Struggle songs in the council chamber.
When the ANC ignored Smit’s instruction to leave‚ he briefly moved the sitting to the banqueting hall‚ but he then relented and provided the councillors’ names.
The DA accuses De Lille of a litany of offences‚ including corruption and maladministration. In turn‚ she has accused the DA’s top echelons of bullying.