De Lille could be back as Cape Town mayor today

15 May 2018 - 07:10 By Aron Hyman
Patricia de Lille. File photo.
Patricia de Lille. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

The City of Cape Town could have its first mayor who is not backed by a political party on Tuesday.

The Cape Town High Court will on Tuesday give its decision on an urgent application brought forward by former mayor Patricia de Lille‚ which could see her back in position from which she was fired by the DA last week.

The DA announced its decision to remove De Lille last week following a radio interview where she said she would quit the party once she had cleared her name of various allegations including nepotism and protecting individuals who were at the centre of a storm over tender irregularities involving major infrastructure projects.

In the meantime‚ since De Lille launched her application on Tuesday last week‚ Cape Town’s highest executive leadership body‚ the mayoral committee‚ has been in limbo pending the court’s decision.

Acting mayor Ian Neilson’s spokesperson Piera Abbott said that Neilson decided not to appoint an interim mayoral committee as he was waiting for the court’s decision‚ but she said that this was affecting the city’s ability to deliver services to residents.

"There are definite implications‚ certain decisions need to be made‚ most importantly obviously our budget because that's supposed to be tabled to council at the end of May‚" said Abbott.

"We do need a mayoral committee to approve that budget and recommend it to council‚" she said.

Meanwhile‚ the ANC has accused the DA of having effectively taken over the city and running it from its offices in Johannesburg.

ANC Western Cape spokesperson Yonela Diko said that the DA acted unconstitutionally when it removed De Lille.

He said that the ANC wanted council to investigate the various allegations into De Lille and other council members.

“The bigger lesson for the councillors in the city is the importance of separation of party and state‚ or of party activities and council. Council is the highest decision-making body in the municipality‚” he said.

“What was missed here was a lot of decisions were taken disregarding council‚” said Diko.

“The feeling now is that the DA has effectively taken over the council which is made up of ANC‚ EFF‚ and other parties‚ which means the functioning of the municipality is happening elsewhere and not in council‚” said Diko‚ adding that this had constitutional implications.

Speaker of the city council‚ Dirk Smit‚ said that technically De Lille could take up her seat without being a member of any party - but that it would be the first time something like this had happened.

Smit said that the portfolio committees‚ sub-committees‚ and councillors were continuing with their work unabated‚ especially with the Cape Town’s budget vote coming up at the end of the month.

“It is the mayor and mayco who have certain powers. They only have certain powers and responsibilities there‚” he said.

“The broad diameter lies with the council and committees. Those continue every day‚ and the officials and the top structures are continuing 100%‚” he said.

De Lille would not say what her next wove was going to be when contacted on Monday‚ saying only that she “will respond after the judgement”‚ and that she “respects the judiciary”.

In the likelihood that she is reinstated as mayor‚ the court would have also effectively forced the DA to accept her membership in the party until a high court hearing on the DA Federal Council’s decision to remove her membership expected to take place on May 25.

DA federal executive committee chairperson James Selfe said the “question in law” was whether a court could force a public benefit organisation like a political party to accept a member.

But if she became mayor again she would be able to reconstitute her mayoral committee - some members of which have been at bitter odds with her - although she would not have the support of her own caucus to take any decisions.

“If she wins she will be restored as a member of the DA and as mayor. Theoretically she could reconstitute her mayoral committee but this requires the concurrence of the federal executive‚ temporarily pending the outcome of the review application to be heard on 25 May‚” said Selfe.