De Lille made 'serious technical error' - analyst
But while her DA and mayoral career might be over, she is not succumbing easily, vowing to fight the party in court
Ousted Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says the DA’s decision to kick her out of the party is an admission that it did not have sufficient evidence for her disciplinary hearing.
As in most divorces, a bruising court battle is looming after De Lille lodged papers in the Cape Town High Court in an attempt to save her mayoral chain. The matter will be heard on Friday morning.
She wants to interdict the city manager from announcing a vacancy – which will pave the way for a new mayor to be elected – as well as the Independent Electoral Commission and the DA.
De Lille and the DA have been communicating through lawyers for some time. She already has two matters in the high court related to her disciplinary hearing. She wants to compel the party to release the evidence it relied on to charge her, including a 30-page letter written by Cape Town councillor JP Smith complaining about her alleged misconduct.However, political analyst Keith Gottschalk said De Lille made a “serious technical error by saying that she is going to resign from the party” in a radio interview, because it was clear the DA no longer wanted her.
Gottschalk said the “marriage between her and the DA is over” and the litigation might not yield much for De Lille.
“Her career in the DA and as mayor is over and all the rest is simply legal detail,” said Gottschalk. “The end is not known but the end of her career in the DA and as mayor is obvious. Court matters can certainly drag on month after month.”
He said it was unclear whether De Lille’s departure would dent the DA’s political fortunes in the next local government election, in 2021.
Gottschalk said it was unlikely that De Lille could revive the Independent Democrats.
“One would have to see if some DA voters abstain in the 2019 [national and provincial] elections or if the DA can whip up some enthusiasm and appeal to unity to bring its voters back. I think it will be unlikely that De Lille or anyone could successfully revive the ID.”At the first of three Cape Town news conferences on Tuesday marking the end of De Lille’s seven-year reign as mayor, DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said her announcement during an April 26 interview with Eusebius McKaiser on CapeTalk and Radio 702 that she would resign from the DA after clearing her name cost her membership – and the mayoral chain.
Selfe said the DA had invoked a section of its constitution that says: “A member ceases to be a member when he or she … publicly declares his or her intention to resign … from the party.”De Lille told the party, when confronted about her utterances, that she had been referring to resigning as mayor, but the DA’s federal legal commission found that the context showed she intended to leave the party.
Selfe said that after the executive decided that De Lille’s membership had ended, the disciplinary hearing De Lille faced for alleged misconduct was no longer necessary.
He wished De Lille well for the future.
“This has been a confusing time for the citizens of Cape Town, for which the DA sincerely apologises,” said Selfe. “We recognise that we will need to build trust with the voters, and will do our utmost best to ensure that we get back to the business of governing Cape Town.”An aggrieved De Lille addressed journalists three hours later at the Cullinan Hotel in Cape Town. She addressed a variety of issues, including her intention to lay criminal charges again two DA MPs who shared a fake auditor-general report on social media to “smear my name”.
She skirted around her plans for life after the DA, and traced the source of the troubles in the party to her transformation stance.
“Around about 2014, I approached the party and said I would like to transform the City of Cape Town. I produced an organisational development and transformation plan,” said De Lille.
“That is when things started going wrong already. People didn’t like the word transformation, they didn’t like what I was going to do. That whole campaign was led by [mayoral committee member] JP Smith and the deputy mayor [Ian Neilson].
“In August 2016 … the council adopted this … plan. This plan was questioned by the federal executive and they set up a committee to look into this plan because they wanted to make sure this transformation was not going to change the whole city.”She added: “If they think it is a victory today, it is a victory for the conservatives who don’t want to see transformation within the City of Cape Town.”
As she has said so often in the past few months, during which she has been at loggerheads with the DA, De Lille said she would decide about her future once she had cleared her name.
“I am still prepared to serve my country in any capacity. I believe 23 years into our democracy we have not done enough. But I cannot sit down and design my future while I have this cloud hanging over my head,” she said.
At his own news conference, Neilson said the mayoral committee appointed by De Lille has been dissolved with immediate effect. He added that he saw the ousting of De Lille as a chance to unify and “move on”, admitting that he and the ousted mayor had had a “difficult relationship” in the past seven years.