De Lille hearing set to go – maybe
The Democratic Alliance has confirmed that Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille’s disciplinary hearing will begin on Tuesday. Glynnis Breytenbach, the chairperson of the party’s federal legal commission (FLC), and party leader Mmusi Maimane’s office said the hearing has been set down for three days from August 7 until August 9.
But the charge sheet De Lille will face on Tuesday will be different, according to Breytenbach.
Nicholas Gotsell, the head of the DA’s FLC, said he is not authorised to speak to journalists and would not give any other details about the charge sheet.
De Lille reached an agreement with the party earlier this month that the hearings will be open to the media.
Initially, she was meant to face a motion of no confidence on July 26, which had been submitted by DA councillors but a last-minute agreement with the party led to the motion being withdrawn and De Lille agreeing to an open disciplinary hearing.
The DA’s caucus is divided between those who support the mayor and those who have lost confidence in her leadership because of allegations of misconduct.
The disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, which will be conducted by the party’s FLC, will be the third De Lille has faced in less than a year. In February, the DA established a panel, led by Hans-Jurie Moolman, to investigate claims made against De Lille that emanated from the Steenhuisen report. This report was compiled after councillors in the Cape Town caucus testified before a subcommittee of the federal executive, chaired by DA MP John Steenhuisen.
The charge sheet in the Moolman hearings included allegations that De Lille had appointed a close family friend, Limia Essop, to the board of the Cape Town Stadium and she allegedly covered up alleged irregular payments involving MyCiti bus tender. She was also accused of belittling, humiliating and insulting fellow members of the caucus.
The Moolman panel ground to a halt in April after De Lille demanded a open public hearing.
The party then convened another disciplinary committee to investigate allegations that she did not properly advertise a job for area-based directors. That committee was also indefinitely suspended because the party would not allow it to be open.
Gotsell would not say whether the DA’s appeal against a high court judgment in June, which reinstated De Lille’s party membership, would have any bearing on the hearing.
According to the DA’s court application for leave to appeal, the party still believes that De Lille’s membership has been terminated and that the high court made a mistake based on the judges’ finding that the party did not follow due process when it initially axed De Lille in May.
But, according to the DA’s rules, its disciplinary processes can deal only with members of the party.
The timeline agreed to for the hearing may not leave De Lille’s legal team with enough time to prepare for the charges against her, which may lead to further delays.
She arguesthat she supports the disciplinary process so that she can clear her name but the DA has said she has deliberately delayed the process by demanding a public hearing.