'Problematic' Patricia de Lille to defy DA leadership
Party set for bitter showdown with its Cape Town mayor
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille will refuse to step down when she meets the DA top brass today.
Instead, she will call for a mediation process to resolve tensions ripping apart the ruling DA caucus in the City of Cape Town.
Sources close to De Lille said she will argue that she has not been formally charged or subjected to a disciplinary hearing, and therefore has not had adequate opportunity to defend herself against allegations including maladministration, mismanagement and nepotism.
The DA federal executive - the party's highest decision-making and disciplinary body when the federal congress and federal council are not in session - has already accepted an investigative report that criticised the mayor and concluded: "The City of Cape Town is in a state of crisis and turmoil, both politically and administratively."
A subcommittee chaired by parliamentary chief whip John Steenhuisen added that "open warfare has broken out amongst councillors in the DA caucus" and warned that a "massive electoral blowout" loomed next year unless action was taken.
The DA has since asked De Lille to explain why she should not be removed as mayor, and her counter proposals include:
• A mediation process for all caucus members;
• Monthly progress reports to the federal executive; and
• Monthly monitoring of caucus meetings by federal executive chairman James Selfe and party CEO Paul Boughey.
A senior DA member sympathetic to De Lille said she would not go quietly. "They must charge her and she should be subjected to a disciplinary hearing where she can defend herself in terms of ... natural justice."The source said the federal executive was acting as player and referee. "This is not in line with the constitution of the DA, which allows for due process to be followed before removing a mayor."
De Lille is also expected to argue that Steenhuisen's subcommittee was not qualified or competent to probe governance issues in Cape Town because only one member had relevant governance experience and qualifications.
Apart from Steenhuisen, subcommittee members were Gauteng provincial leader and MPL John Moodey, Free State leader and MP Patricia Kopane and Karen Smith, a councillor and member of the Eastern Cape provincial executive committee.
Cape Town mayoral committee member JP Smith submitted a 30-page complaint about De Lille to party leader Mmusi Maimane and Selfe in July.
In its findings, the subcommittee praised De Lille as "extremely hard-working and dedicated". But it added: "Her leadership style has become extremely problematic for the successful functioning of both the administration and her caucus."
Since the DA achieved a two-thirds majority in Cape Town, De Lille had come to believe and behave as if "she, rather than the DA, is the driving force behind the success", it said.
This had led to an outburst in the caucus that none of the DA councillors would have been there if were not for her "brand" - described by Steenhuisen's team as "a remarkably unfair and unacceptable comment ... a remarkably poor show of leadership".
De Lille had taken a similar "completely adversarial" approach to the subcommittee's investigation. "This is not the behaviour of a leader who genuinely wants to get to the heart of conflicts in the arena where she leads and attempt to establish how to resolve these."