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DA vs De Lille – the battle continues

Patricia De Lille
Image: David Harrison.

The Democratic Alliance's fight with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is far from over as the party revealed on Monday that it would appeal the Western Cape High Court judgment which set aside its decision to terminate De Lille's membership.

And this on the same day that Marian Nieuwoudt‚ a DA councillor in the Cape Town council‚ tabled a new motion of no confidence against De Lille. Monday was the first day of the council’s new term.

Nieuwoudt could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing. But municipal Speaker Dirk Smit confirmed to SowetanLIVE that a motion of no confidence had been tabled against the mayor.

Smit said the motion was set to be heard during a council meeting on July 26.

But Smit's own fitness to hold office is also up for debate‚ as the ANC tabled a motion of no confidence against him‚ claiming that the council has denigrated under his leadership.

ANC caucus leader Xolani Sotatshe accused Smit of being partisan and allowing a cabal within the DA caucus - including party leader Mmusi Maimane - to run the council. An example of this‚ he said‚ was the decision to remove De Lille's executive powers as the executive mayor and giving them to the mayoral committee.

"The powers of the executive mayor are derived from the Municipal Systems Act. You can't just introduce a mayoral systems where there is an executive system. We were among those who advised them against the move‚ but the speaker allowed it‚" said Sotashe.

The Cape Town Council voted to strip De Lille of her executive powers in May‚ leaving her as merely a ceremonial mayor. The motion was brought by deputy mayor and DA caucus leader Ian Neilson - and it was supported by 137 councillors with only 50 voting against.

Sotashe said he expected the motion against Smit to be debated on the same day as the motion of no confidence against De Lille. He said the ANC expected Smit to recuse himself from both debates‚ and that the municipal manager will preside over the debate on Smit's fitness to hold office.

Meanwhile‚ the DA's deputy federal council chairperson Natasha Mazzone told TimesLIVE on Monday that they would be appealing the judgment on the basis that "we respectfully disagree with the findings and believe that our internal processes were not correctly understood".

A full bench of judges found last month that the termination of De Lille's DA membership was unlawful.

De Lille‚ who has been at loggerheads with the DA‚ approached the court in May to challenge the constitutionality of the party’s so-called automatic-cessation clause‚ which it used to terminate her party membership. This followed a radio interview in which De Lille said she would resign after clearing her name.

The clause states that membership ceases once a party member publicly declares his or her intention to resign and or publicly does so.

The party was left embarrassed in February when De Lille survived a motion of no confidence in council by one vote.

De Lille took to Twitter on Monday afternoon saying she respected the DA's right to appeal the recent Western Cape High Court judgment.

"After all‚ a fair trial includes the right to appeal‚" she said.

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