Cape Town mayor fights back.
CAPE Town mayor Patricia De Lille is refusing to play dead and roll over as her party, the Democratic Alliance charges ahead in a bid to remove her.
The former leader of the Independent Democrats is in the fight for her political life following a meeting of the party’s top decision-making body. A high-level investigation into her conducted which was compiled by the Federal Executive Paints De Lille in a bad light.
The report which was compiled by chief whip John Steenhuisen, Member of Parliament Patricia Kopane, Gauteng leader John Moodey and councillor Karen Smith found that the residents of Cape Town were the big losers in a “turf war” between De Lille and councillor JP Smith over the shutting down of the city’s special investigations unit (SIU).
The report also found that De Lille pushed for a family friend to be appointed to the board of a municipal entity; A close family member of De Lille’s may have benefitted from a controversial city tender; De Lille believes she, rather than the DA, was the driving force behind the party’s successful 2016 election campaign, and De Lille is prone to bullying councillors who do not agree with her, calling them “stupid”.
Tensions between Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, and De Lille boiled over in August 2017 when she controversially ordered the shutting down of the SIU, which he headed. The report has found that the SIU and the citizens of Cape Town have clearly become the victims of a ‘turf war’ between the mayor, speaker (Dirk Smit) and (JP Smith).
The report further accused De Lille of abusing her power as mayor to ensure the appointments of those she favours. De Lille, according to the report, did not seem to recognise that she is a DA mayor heading a DA administration.
On Sunday DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced that De Lille should be charged and investigated by the DA’s federal legal commission.
Prior to Maimane’s announcement, Cape Metro Chairperson Grant Twigg said the party had decided to have De Lille removed from her position as mayor. In his statement, Twigg said De Lille has lost the confidence of the Metro Executive and for that reason, she must be removed. He said the DA prides itself on being a party that represents transparent and accountable governance.
“It is therefore important that our leaders represent us in this regard. For us to ensure that the City of Cape Town remains a well-run city, it is important that its leadership maintains the confidence of its party and the functionality of its political caucus. It is for these reasons that the DA Cape Metro Executive have resolved to recommend to the DA Western Cape Provincial Executive Committee, DA Federal Executive and the DA City of Cape Town Caucus that Patricia De Lille be removed as the Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town,” said Twigg.
“Patricia De Lille has lost the confidence of the Metro Executive, the relevant political authority. We are of the view that the City of Cape Town requires stability, unity and functionality – which we believe she cannot deliver.”
De Lille has been at the centre of controversy in recent times following allegations of improper conduct. She is under investigation for allegedly ordering the cover-up of serious allegations of misconduct against Cape Town transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead.
She has also come under fire for her suggestion of Drought Water Levy to try and restore water supply in the city. Cape Town has been gripped by water shortages with dam levels at an extremely low point. Twigg said the suggestion should be blocked.
“To recommend to the DA City of Cape Town Caucus that the proposed ‘Drought Water Levy’ not be supported at the next Full Council meeting. After careful consideration, we have come to the decision that this proposal is not viable and will create an undue burden on ratepayers.
“We are of the opinion that the city should reprioritize it’s budget as well as actively and robustly engage the National Government on the needs of the City, as water sourcing is their core competency. I communicated our recommendations to party leadership and trust they will act swiftly in the best interests of the organization,” he said.
De Lille has come out guns blazing and accused Twigg of not consulting branches with regards to have her removed as mayor.
“Firstly, this statement does not represent the City of Cape Town DA caucus because they never met.
“Secondly, after this statement by Grant Twigg was issued I received numerous calls from members from various the branches of the DA saying that they have never been consulted on this statement by the Regional Executive nor have they given them the mandate,” de Lille said.
She challenged Twigg to provide proof of the meetings that took place to arrive at the decision to have her removed.
De Lille declared the statement as a ploy to have her removed and replaced by provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela who is said to be a Helen Zille ally. She said the statement clearly indicated that the Regional Executive was confused about its role and function.
“This is yet another example of the flagrant disregard for processes within the DA in their rush to get rid of me and make Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela the next Executive Mayor. It illustrates my previous position that these attacks on me have been about power and positions all along,” said De Lille.
She has further indicated that she would continue doing her job as mayor despite Maimane’s stance that she should be charged.