Court puts De Lille, DA rumble on ice
More to come in Mother City’s Punch and Judy mayoral spat
PATRICIA de Lille will remain the only South African who does not enjoy the right to belong to the party of her choice.
These were the words of her advocate, Dali Mpofu, to the Cape High Court yesterday.
De Lille filed an urgent application for interim relief seeking to confirm her membership of the DA and to return to her mayoral seat and to council.
But judges, Monde Samele and Patric Gamble, were not able to grant the relief De Lille sought and a final decision is expected on May 25 when De Lille and the DA will again draw swords.
De Lille’s motion cited the DA as the first respondent, the city manager as the second, the City of Cape Town as the third and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) as the fourth respondent.
Mpofu, in his heads of argument, said that the residents of Cape town were in “limbo” as there was no functioning mayoral committee.
The city’s mayoral committee was dissolved on Tuesday after DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe sent an e-mail to the IEC informing it that De Lille was no longer a member of the party.
The drama stemmed from a radio interview that De Lille had with Primedia talk show host Eusebius Mckaiser, where she allegedly said: “I will resign if the DA fails in Cape Town.”
This, according to the DA, constituted prima facie evidence that De Lille intended to resign from the party.
According to Mpofu, the DA’S “internal machine then set off an unlawful process”, which saw De Lille ousted from the party, the council and the mayoral chair.
“Can the words used in the Mckaiser interview justify her hurried removal on May 8?,” asked Mpofu.
The court heard that acting mayor Ian Nielsen had not formed a new mayoral committee as he was awaiting the outcome of the interim-relief order sought by De Lille and her legal team.
Mpofu argued that it was unlawful to remove De Lille’s membership of her “chosen” party, remove her from her position on the DA council and remove her from her mayoral position.
“We come from a history where rules were made for certain people based on skin colour. This is an insult to the court and the country,” added Mpofu.
He argued that the DA should have put the motion before party council for a decision.
He also labelled the vote of no confidence in De Lille on February 15 as a “farce” and “subterfuge”.
Mpofu lambasted the party for failing to provide any proof of wrongdoing on the part of De Lille.
“No harm has been done to the DA. No harm has been done to the city. There isn’t even an allegation of wrongdoing, not even a finding of wrongdoing,” said Mpofu.
Mpofu also criticised the actions of Selfe saying: “Selfe did it by himself,” which caused laughter in the packed courtroom.
Counsel for the DA Sean Rosenberg told the court that the party reacted to a “public declaration” by De Lille to resign during the Mckaiser interview.
“The DA can dismiss De Lille if she plans to resign,” said Rosenberg.
He also called De Lille’s motion for interim relief “radical”.
“De Lille will hold a DA seat, job and office and this is a person who indicated that she will leave the party and she has indicated that she will not submit herself to party disciplinary processes,” said Rosenberg.
He disagreed with Mpofu that De Lille was elected by the people of Cape Town. “Seats on the council are allocated based on the support the party enjoys in the city. De Lille is estranged from the party,” added Rosenberg.
This statement prompted a question from Judge Samela: “This situation has been like this for a while. How will two more weeks prejudice the DA?”
Meanwhile, De Lille appeared calm during proceedings wearing a blue and cream floral print suit and sporting deep red nails.
Independent Media spoke to her during proceedings and she indicated that she felt at ease.
“I am confident that the court is objective and we are sure we will have a good outcome,” said De Lille.
She added that she had been in contact with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who had been “assisting” her. “We have been speaking. To use Helen’s own words, she is appalled at how I have been treated.
“She said to me that the party cannot have disciplinary processes and at the same time bring a motion of no confidence against me,” said De Lille.
The judges have given De Lille and her legal team until May 16 to file amendments to yesterday’s proceedings. The respondents (the DA) have until May 18 to file opposing papers. The applicant must file responding papers by May 21 and both counsel must submit their final heads of argument by May 23.
No harm has been done to the DA… Selfe did it by himself
Axed mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille had to face DA supporters chanting ‘De Lille must fall’ when she arrived at the High Court in Cape Town yesterday morning.