De Lille can't force DA to stay in a broken relationship: Selfe

22 May 2018 - 10:41 By Karyn Maughan
DA federal chair James Selfe.
DA federal chair James Selfe.
Image: Trevor Sampson

The Democratic Alliance has hit back at Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s legal bid to retain her party membership – and argues she can’t force the DA to “remain in a relationship with it … when it is clear that the parties’ relationship has irretrievably broken down”.

“She has publicly stated that she has no desire to remain a member of the DA‚ other than to further her own personal aims‚” DA federal chair James Selfe has stated in an affidavit filed at the Western Cape High Court. “She has violated the DA’s rules that clearly prohibit public declarations of an intention to resign. Yet she seeks urgent review relief in order to remain a member of the DA.”

The High Court has already ruled that De Lille should retain her DA membership pending the conclusion of her review application – due to be heard on Friday – in which she challenges the party’s “automatic cessation clause”.

The party used this clause to terminate De Lille’s membership‚ on the basis that she had stated in an interview with 702 host Eusebius McKaiser that she would resign from the party once she had cleared her name.

According to De Lille‚ this statement did not amount to a resignation from the party and she denies that her relationship with the DA has “irretrievably broken down”. She has accused the DA of trying to use an easy “unlawful short cut” to “get rid of me”‚ rather than pursuing a potentially difficult disciplinary inquiry process against her.

But Selfe disagrees‚ and is adamant that the DA acted lawfully when it terminated De Lille’s membership. “Membership of any organisation depends on two things: loyalty to the organisation and compliance with the organisation’s rules.

People have no right to insist on belonging to organisations to which they are not committed‚ and whose rules they have violated. Membership of political parties is no different‚” Selfe states.

According to Selfe‚ while De Lille has argued that there needs to be a “good reason” to remove her from office‚ “the only reason needed to justify her loss of office is her loss of membership of the party”. He denies her argument that she can only be removed through a vote of no confidence or a fair disciplinary inquiry.

He says De Lille’s statement that she intended to resign from the DA once she had cleared her name was bound to cause damage to the party – with other parties potentially asking De Lille to join them “and this may in turn influence other members of the DA to consider their future with the party”.

“Relatedly‚ other political parties may also capitalise on such statements‚ through for example arguing that the DA is an undesirable political home‚ and is divided and weak.”

He claims that the cessation clause that De Lille is now seeking to challenge has been regularly used by the DA to terminate the memberships of ordinary party members and public office bearers‚ and denies it is being selectively used to target her as a “political dissident”. He says De Lille is seeking “explicitly to place herself above the party”.

“She argues that because she enjoys political support‚ and occupies the office of mayor‚ she is not subject to the same rules that apply to other DA members.”

De Lille in turn says the DA has dishonestly tried to present its decision to terminate her membership of the party as innocent‚ and not the result of “the relentless vendetta and determination to get rid of me” – a stance that she says “insults the intelligence” of the court.