Cape Town - Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille will retain her position for now, but her powers are set to be curtailed after the Democratic Alliance federal executive met on Sunday and decided she would be charged with misconduct.
“The federal executive has thus resolved that the mayor be formally charged and investigated by the party’s federal legal commission,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said at a media briefing in Cape Town on Sunday following the meeting.
Maimane said De Lille would be charged for actions that negatively impacted the image of the party, for failing to perform her duties as mayor “as set out by the party’s federal council”, for bringing the “good name of the party into disrepute”, and because she acted “in a manner that is unreasonable and detrimental to internal co-operation within the party”.
The charges stemmed from various allegations made against her over the past few months. They included that she “acted in an improper and unlawful manner" in respect of the reappointment of the city manager of Cape Town by "unduly influencing members of the selection panel”.
According to the DA, De Lille sent a text message to a member of the selection panel reading: “I want to keep Achmat [Ebrahim] so score him highest. Thanks.”
It was claimed De Lille had failed to account to the council adequately on irregularities and financial losses incurred by the city as a result of its contract related to the operation of the MyCiTi bus service, and that she failed to take remedial action in this regard.
She was also accused of acting “in an improper and/or abusive manner in providing leadership to the caucus of the party in the City of Cape Town by, through her words and actions, intimidating and belittling caucus members who did not agree with her”.
She allegedly refused to work with deputy caucus leader JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security. Smith and De Lille were involved in a public spat in which she accused him of dragging her name through the mud after claims surfaced she had used city money to pay for upgrades to her home.
The DA’s federal legal commission had been asked to expedite the prosecution of De Lille.
“We’ve asked the federal legal commission to ideally conclude its business within 60 days, of course balanced against fair processes,” DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said.
In the meantime, De Lille’s powers would be curbed, including management of the Mother City’s biggest crisis, a drought which could see Cape Town run out of water by April.
“We will thus recommend to the caucus that they formally bring a resolution to council that removes the mayor from any role in managing and directing the city’s response to the prolonged drought during the period of these investigations,” said Maimane.
“Instead, deputy mayor Ian Neilsen and the mayoral committee member for water, informal settlements, and waste services councillor Xanthea Limberg will assume overall political leadership and control of the city’s response plan.”
Several other powers residing in the mayor’s office would be decentralised.
“Further, the caucus of the City of Cape Town will be asked to review the delegations in the city to restore the proper decision-making authority and functioning of the mayoral committee, council committees, and sub-councils. That the organisational restructuring is reviewed is looked at, so that changes so required to ensure governance that makes progress possible for all residents,” Maimane said.
African News Agency/ANA