It is time for De Lille to move on

Patricia de Lille.
Patricia de Lille.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille spectacularly won another round in her ongoing fight with the DA yesterday.

A full bench of the high court in Cape Town ruled as "unlawful and invalid" the announcement by the party that De Lille had effectively terminated her membership of the the DA through remarks she made during a radio interview.

The court judgment effectively reinstated her membership of the party, hence keeping De Lille in her position as mayor of the country's second-richest city.

It is a major blow for the DA and its leader Mmusi Maimane as they had seen the case as the shortest route to ending a long-running feud that has compromised the party's ability to effectively run Cape Town.

The longer the fight continues, the longer the DA losses sympathy from voters - some who believe that De Lille is being mistreated and others who say the whole saga exposes Maimane as a weak leader who cannot decisively act against errant members.

Although she won this round, we certainly have not heard the last of this fight. As she did warn last year this David and Goliath contest is like a boxing match, it is destined to go several rounds before we get the eventual winner.

Already, the DA is promising to appeal the court decision while others within its ranks are agitating for a parallel party disciplinary process to be revived against De Lille. Although her victory would embolden her and her supporters when she returns to council chambers, it is unlikely the DA would reinstate the powers she was stripped off a few months ago.

This means Cape Town will continue to have a leadership stalemate with its elected mayor unable to run the city government as she no longer enjoys the support of her caucus.

Such a situation is not ideal for the city and its people.

De Lille has fought a brave fight and made her point. But it is time she moved on and allowed Cape Town to have a full-time mayor.

She can still fight for her right to remain in the DA and have the courts clear her name in relation to all that the party and her other detractors are accusing her of.

But in doing so, she should not hold the entire city to ransom. She has long lost the confidence of caucus and can't possibly run the city without its support.

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