Court puts De Lille, DA rum­ble on ice

More to come in Mother City’s Punch and Judy may­oral spat

Saturday Star - - NEWS - NORMAN CLOETE

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

PIC­TURE: TRACEY ADAMS/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

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.

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