Q&A with the DA's James Selfe

The war between Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and the DA, which has expelled her from the party, continues. Chris Barron asked the chairman of the federal executive of the DA, James Selfe ...

13 May 2018 - 00:00 By CHRIS BARRON

How strong is the evidence against her?
Strong. It comes from three sources: the Steenhuisen report, the Bowman Gilfillan report, and the report of the auditor-general.
Why were you so quick to trigger the automatic expulsion clause?
She did that. You cease to be a member of the DA if you publicly declare your intention to resign.
You used a throwaway comment on radio to get rid of her?
No, she made the comment twice, which was very clearly her intention. To resign.
If the evidence is so strong, why not allow the process to run its course?
We wanted the process to take its course, and quickly. We wanted the matter over and done with. I have chronicled the delaying tactics she invoked.
If you wanted the matter closed, wouldn't it have been better to let the evidence be tested?
We are going to publish all the evidence.
Why haven't you?
Partly to avoid a trial by media, partly because some of the people who gave evidence did so on the understanding it would be confidential. Officials from the city of Cape Town who were terrified of losing their jobs.
What does the evidence reveal?
That there were deep divisions in the caucus, that organisational structures ...
Unethical behaviour?
Some unethical behaviour.
How serious?
Bowmans found she'd engaged in conduct that amounted to deceiving the council. The AG found the leadership did not ... [ensure] that procurement processes were fair and equitable. That's shorthand for saying the mayor allowed the city to engage in dodgy procurement processes.
So why did you offer her a seat in parliament?
That was at a very early stage.
She says two or three weeks ago?
She's being economical with the truth.
How long ago?
November last year.
How much evidence was there against her by then?
Not much.
Enough to decide you didn't want her as mayor?
We at that stage had a political management problem. There were deep tensions in the caucus. We thought a way to manage that was to move key people into other spheres of government.
Where did the stuff about tensions come from?
Members of the caucus.
People who didn't like her?
People who felt her management style and interpersonal relationships were making it difficult to deliver coherent government.
So was this about maladministration or not being liked by her peers?
Initially, maladministration didn't come into it.
So it was just about not being liked by her peers because she was bossy?
And demeaning, insulting, generally high-handed and autocratic...

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