De Lille fight is 'waste of court's time'
Her lawyer, Dali Mpofu, accuses DA of political manoeuvring in high court battle
Embattled Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s counsel says the legal battle between her and the DA is a waste of the courts’ time.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, told a full bench of the Cape Town High Court on Monday that De Lille had dangled an olive branch to the party by offering to have the impasse resolved outside court. But that offer was not taken up, he said.
“The time of this court has been wasted,” said Mpofu.
“Six judges have heard this matter. If it goes to the SCA it will be 11 judges. If it goes to the Constitutional Court it will be 22 judges. This does not fit this forum … it is a political manoeuvre. They must sit down with her. We have offered mediation … but we are in a court of law [and the court has to make a determination].”De Lille is challenging the constitutionality of the DA’s session clause that the party relied on to fire her last month. Her assertion that she would resign from her position after clearing her name in an interview with radio show host Eusebius McKaiser in April cost her her membership. The DA is defending the lawsuit.
Mpofu described the DA’s attempts to dislodge De Lille as fraudulent. He said the party was unable to fire her through a vote of no confidence because she enjoys a majority support in council.
De Lille survived a vote of no confidence brought by the party in February by one vote. The DA stripped her of her executive powers last week, rendering her a ceremonial mayor.
“Some wise person in the DA found another unlawful shortcut,” said Mpofu.
“They found an even more unlawful shortcut based on a purported telephone interview with a radio show host. Political parties may not adopt constitutions that contradict the country’s constitution.”
Mpofu accused the DA of putting up a smoke screen.
“What they want to do is to remove her as a mayor‚” said Mpofu. “They don’t care if she is a (DA) member or not. They have gone to an illegal subterfuge. This is just a smoke screen that has been put before the court. I am sure there are worse members they are tolerating.
“All we are saying is that they have chosen an illegal route. They need to canvass council members and convince those members to vote in favour of the vote of no confidence.”Mpofu said the DA was aware that a vote of no confidence in De Lille might not succeed as she enjoyed majority support in council.
“Even if they go back to council‚ they are going to fail‚” Mpofu said.
“They failed in February and they are going to fail now. They can’t do that because she still enjoys the majority of council and her rights vested in her by the people of Cape Town.”
A full bench of the Cape Town High Court is hearing her application to have her DA membership restored.
Supporters for both the DA and De Lille were nowhere to be seen on Monday.De Lille told Times Select: “I have always put my faith in the judiciary. I have always believed in the judiciary to give me a fair hearing. Today is no different.”
Also in attendance was the deputy chairperson of the DA’s federal council, Natasha Mazzone.
“I am here to observe the court process on behalf of the DA,” said Mazzone.
“The main thing the DA wants is to ensure that service delivery is by no way hindered. This has been a confusing legal process (for the ratepayers).”
The matter continues on Tuesday.