Make or break for embattled De Lille as she faces no-confidence motion

15 February 2018 - 06:00 By Philani Nombembe
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Image: Esa Alexander

Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizeka doubts that beleaguered Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is still a member of his party.

De Lille‚ who is entangled in an acrimonious public spat with the DA leadership‚ faces a motion of no confidence – brought by her own party – on Thursday. The party accuses De Lille of a litany of things‚ including corruption and maladministration. De Lille has not held back.

She accused the DA’s top echelons of bullying‚ and the squabbles are turning into a PR nightmare as the party has depicted Cape Town as an archetype of good governance – under its leadership. There seems to be no end in sight to the skirmishes which have spilled over to the courts.

De Lille will face the vote of no confidence emboldened by a high court ruling in her favour on Wednesday. De Lille approached the High Court in Cape Town for an order instructing council speaker Dirk Smit to ensure councillors could vote with their conscience on Thursday.

This followed a tip-off from her ally Suzette Little‚ chairman of the DA caucus in the city council‚ that DA federal executive chairman James Selfe “was of the opinion that in terms of the DA’s constitution all caucus members are bound by the caucus decision [to support the motion of no confidence]‚ even those who did not vote for it”.

The DA has a two-thirds majority in the council. Judge Robert Henney ruled on Wednesday that Smit must use his discretion to ensure that councillors can vote with their conscience. He also ordered that the DA must pay the costs of De Lille’s two counsel. De Lille‚ 66‚ faces council‚ party and criminal investigations into alleged misconduct‚ and she has alleged that the DA wants to remove her as mayor so it can appoint Madikizela in her place.

This week De Lille told TimesLIVE: “This is not about me. I want to make sure that councillors exercise their right to vote and that they do so without fear of intimidation because there has been a lot of intimidation. To give an example‚ last year both the speaker of council and the chief whip of the council were perceived to be close to the mayor and the next thing they were served with notices. So there is fear in our own caucus.”

Madikizela was puzzled by De Lille’s outspokenness. He said she disregards the party’s internal process so much that he wonders if she is still a member of the DA.

“She continues to defy the party‚ that is why we are saying that we have lost confidence in her‚” said Madikizela.

“You might be unhappy but you must respect the internal processes. But her utterances are indicative of someone who is no longer a member of the party. Her posture and utterances are quiet disturbing. For her to vilify and speak in the manner that she does about her own party‚ if she is still a member‚ is totally unacceptable and uncalled for.”

Madikizela dismissed speculation that he will replace De Lille if she is ousted. He said he is too busy‚ as the party’s provincial leader‚ to take the mayoral chain.

De Lille said she has not decided on what she will do next should the motion of no confidence in her succeed.

“I am taking one day at a time‚” she said. “I am fighting for fairness and justice like I have done for the past 45 years of my life that I have been in politics and I will continue to do so.”