Patricia de Lille already ‘back at work’

Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. Picture: Twitter

Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. Picture: Twitter

The Cape Town mayor posted a photo of herself on Tuesday afternoon back at her desk – and without the mayoral chain her brief replacement appeared to love.

Executive mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille wasted no time getting back to work after the high court reinstated her at around lunchtime on Tuesday.

She posted a picture of herself on Twitter in the afternoon, captioned: “Back at work. For the sake of the people of Cape Town, for the sake of good governance, let us rise above our differences and put the people of #CapeTownFirst.”

The acting mayor, Ian Neilson, had barely had a chance to plug in his laptop.

Others made fun of the fact that he had already taken to wearing the mayoral chain.

Delivering judgment in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town, Judge Patrick Gamble ruled that the termination of De Lille’s DA membership is suspended for now.

She is therefore temporarily still Cape Town’s executive mayor.

Gamble said the preservation of the status quo before the DA federal executive determination was the only available remedy.

De Lille thanked her supporters on Tuesday, after the Western Cape High Court reinstated her as mayor pending a reviewing court’s ruling on May 25.

She told journalists she would continue to put the people of Cape Town first as she fights for “equality and fairness”.

Judge Pat Gamble emphasised the court’s concern for Cape Town’s citizens and said there needed to be stability in the DA leadership.

In his judgment, he disagreed with De Lille’s argument that her reputation had been irreparably damaged.

“As far as harm is concerned, we do not perceive irreparable harm to Ms De Lille in her personal capacity. Her loss of income, status and freedom of association with the political party of her choice are all capable of being addressed later if the reviewing court finds in her favour. We are, however, genuinely concerned about the harm which her loss of office has for the people she is supposed to serve as the executive mayor of Cape Town.”

For this reason, he said, “preservation of the status quo as it existed immediately before Ms De Lille was informed of the decision of FedEx [DA federal executive] last Tuesday morning is in our view the only reasonable alternative in the prevailing circumstances”.

He suspended the cessation of her DA membership, hence she will return to her position as mayor of Cape Town pending a reviewing court’s ruling on part B of her application.

On Friday, the Western Cape High Court dealt with “Part A” of De Lille’s application to return to her post for two weeks until “Part B” of her application is dealt with. Part B, to be argued on May 25, is challenging the constitutional validity of the clause used to remove her from office.

Natasha Mazzone, the deputy chairwoman of the DA’s federal council said the court had agreed with the DA that De Lille had in fact tendered her resignation from the party when she told Radio 702 last month that she intended to quit the DA as soon as she had cleared her name in a bruising, highly public political fight with the party’s leadership.

Mazzone said the DA would proceed with disciplinary processes against De Lille.

De Lille faces charges of misconduct after a political inquiry headed by the party’s chief whip in Parliament John Steenhuisen found that the city council is hamstrung by infighting under her leadership.

The leadership of South Africa’s second city has become a power struggle within the DA, the country’s main opposition party, ahead of national elections next year.

In court, De Lille challenged the party’s decision to strip her of the mayoral job and her party membership a week ago over alleged mismanagement and corruption.

Cape Town has been battling a drought, flash floods and high crime rate.

Gamble ruled in her favour, saying “the first respondent will remain mayor” and continue in the job she has held since 2011.

The decision was a fast-track ruling, which will be followed by a full hearing on May 25.

The DA reacted angrily, accusing De Lille of being a bully who was “clinging onto power”.

“De Lille has displayed the utmost disdain for the office … as evidenced by the serious evidence of maladministration and unethical leadership,” it added.

De Lille told reporters that she would go back to her office and continue work.

“It is not all about me. I keep thinking about the people of Cape Town. Therefore we must now bring this to an end,” she said.

She still faces a motion of no confidence in council.

The party’s federal chairperson said last week that the DA constitution provided, in section, that: “A member ceases to be a member when he or she publicly declares his or her intention to resign and/or publicly declares his or her resignation from the Party.”

The DA announced last week that De Lille’s membership has been terminated because, during a radio interview last month with Eusebius McKaiser on 702, she had indicated that she intended to resign from the party after clearing her name.

The judge summed up De Lille’s argument for bringing the court challenge by saying, among other things, that she claims she had never said she intended to resign from the DA, only as Cape Town’s mayor. She pointed out that other DA members had made similar statements that were not acted on in a similar way. She raised other technical and constitutional points.

The DA, however, pointed out that De Lille’s exact quote on McKaiser’s show had expressed that she intended to quit the DA, and not only as Cape Town’s mayor. They also challenged each of her other points, including that she had suffered any irreparable harm, which the court accepted.

On the matter of an interdict or other halt to the acting mayor’s ability to change the city’s mayoral committee, the DA submitted that it would not be practical or realistic to subject the running of the city to what could turn out to be a protracted legal battle and process.

The judge said that even though her membership was guaranteed by his ruling, she would still need to subject herself to internal party discipline and the expectations of being the executive mayor would still be upon her.

He made no immediate ruling on costs.


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