Court to rule on De Lille’s application for secret ballot on no-confidence motion

13 February 2018 - 20:03 By Philani Nomembe
Patricia de Lille. File photo.
Patricia de Lille. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Beleaguered Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has to wait until Wednesday afternoon to find out if the high court will order a secret ballot vote in the motion of no confidence against her.

The application was heard on an urgent basis on Tuesday and counsel locked horns until after 5pm.

In a statement preceding the application‚ De Lille said she was “seeking an order to ensure that all councillors in the City of Cape Town are free to vote according to their conscience‚ either in favour or against the motion of no confidence against me. I also demand a demand a secret vote.”

She said a number of councillors and DA branches had reached out to her and expressed fear of reprisals should it be found that they did not support the motion.

The rift between her and the party has been widened by recent accusations of maladministration and corruption against her. She has accused the party of double standards.

The DA has since changed its stance and said there would be not repercussions for councillors who vote against the motion after it sought legal advice.

“It seems the Backroom Boys Club are so pre-occupied with bullying tactics that they fail to see the hypocrisy between this matter and when the DA fought for a secret ballot along with the UDM with the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma‚” De Lille’s statement read.

“There have been attempts to intimidate me and asking me to withdraw the matter but I am going ahead because at this stage only the court can ensure fairness. The DA has said that councillors are free to vote with their conscience yet they refuse a secret vote. A vote can never be free unless it is a secret.”

The DA has a two-thirds majority in the council. De Lille’s counsel Dali Mpofu‚ SC‚ urged the court to compel the DA to instruct its councillors to vote in favour of a secret ballot rather than leave the decision to the speaker of council.

“The rhetorical question is what is wrong with a secret vote? The reason they (DA) want an open vote is because they want to intimidate the voters‚” Mpofu said.

“This whole thing is such a sham. It begs the question; is it really fair it is in front of the bosses? They want to have their cake and eat it.”

Ismail Jamie SC‚ for the DA‚ dismissed De Lille’s application as a bid to hang onto her mayoral chain. He said there was no legal basis for the order sought by the mayor and asked the court to dismiss it.

“This case has all to do with political survival‚” said Jamie. “And she (De Lille) thinks that if the ballot is secret she can remain mayor. They want to win today in this court what they cannot or might not win on Thursday.”

Judge Robert Henney will rule on the application on Wednesday. De Lille was mobbed by a crowd of supporters as she arrived at the high court on Tuesday.

Leading De Lille’s supporters outside the court was Lulama Bini from Hout Bay‚ who told TimesLIVE: “We are here to support our mayor who supported us last year during a fire that was raging in Mandela Park informal settlement.

“She gave us hope and kept her promises. She did deliver. We have water‚ electricity and toilets. I am not a DA member. I am supporting her as mayor of Cape Town.”

As the crowd sang that De Lille’s “sin was being black”‚ Bini said some officials wanted black people to be removed from Hout Bay and “dumped near the airport”. He said DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela‚ who is also the provincial housing MEC and De Lille’s likely successor as mayor‚ supported the move.

“We are worried of losing a lot if she is removed. Our kids go to school in Hout Bay‚ we work in Hout Bay. The accusations are only emerging now. She doesn't know we are here‚” said Bini.

Madikizela was booed by the crowd as he arrived for the hearing.