You can't down Pat, as the DA is discovering
De Lille wins her court battle over DA membership, but goes straight into her next fight with the party
Patricia de Lille had barely emerged from her court victory on Wednesday when she slipped on her boxing gloves again. A full bench of the High Court in Cape Town reinstated De Lille’s DA membership, and she stays on as mayor – for now.
There seems to be no end in sight for the legal impasse between the beleaguered mayor and the DA. The warring parties will be back in court on Thursday butting heads over access to the Steenhuisen Report.
The report, compiled by a team headed by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen last year, was the basis of the disciplinary action against De Lille.
The report accused her of interfering with the appointment of the municipal manager by sending an SMS to a member of the interview panel which read: “I want to keep Achmat so score him highest. Thanks.”
This was allegedly in reference to former municipal manager Achmat Ebrahim. It also accuses De Lille, among other things, of doling out patronage and protection to controversial Ses’Khona leader Loyiso Nkohla who is the city’s community liaison officer.Nkohla is infamous for flinging poo during a protest at Cape Town International Airport in 2013.
De Lille had challenged the constitutionality of the party’s so-called “cessation clause” which the DA used to fire her from the party last month.
This followed her declaration during a radio interview that she would resign after clearing her name. She is adamant that she was referring to her job as a mayor and had not meant she would quit the party.
The maladministration and nepotism charges against her became moot when the party fired her last month but could soon be reinstated since she won her court case to retain her membership.
“The determination of the [DA] that [De Lille] has ceased to be a member of the DA in terms of … its (federal) constitution is declared to be unlawful and invalid and is reviewed and set aside, with costs,” the court ruled.De Lille said the judgment has far-reaching effects. “The whole federal legal commission (FLC) of the DA has been declared invalid and together with that all the decisions that they have taken, including all the disciplinary hearings and terms to discipline me,” said De Lille.
“And I still insist: if they correct all their mistakes, I am still prepared to subject myself to an open disciplinary hearing in front of the public and in front of the media.”
De Lille said her victory sent a strong message that no one is above the law. She urged political parties to learn “to treat our members with respect”.
“Tomorrow I am back in this court because they (the DA) continue with untested allegations. They have refused to give us the evidence of those allegations,” said De Lille.“Tomorrow, again, the court must rule and force them to give us the evidence. What kind of justice is that? We fought for justice in this country, [yet] many of them don’t understand the word justice.
“They claim to be constitutionalist but thank God we have an independent judiciary that will protect the rights of all South Africans, including the rights of Patricia de Lille that they have been trying to violate.
“But this is not the end. I will continue to fight for justice and fairness for all the people of South Africa.”
But Natasha Mazzone, the DA’s deputy federal chairperson, said De Lille had refused to participate in the Steenhuisen inquiry. She said the DA would appeal the judgment.
“We will be appealing this judgment. We don’t feel that the correct interpretation of the DA constitution or the federal legal commission rules was applied,” said Mazzone.
“Also we don’t think that this judgment is in the interests of the people of the City of Cape Town. The fact of the matter is that Patricia de Lille will now attempt to go back and lead a caucus where only 25% of caucus members have any kind of trust in her.
“The fact is that the relationship between the Democratic Alliance and Patricia de Lille has broken and one must not forget that Patricia de Lille has no interest in being a member of the Democratic Alliance going forward.”