Cape Town - Ousted Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has been getting advice and moral support from Western Cape Premier Helen Zille as she fights to keep her party membership and mayoral chain.
De Lille revealed this on Friday as she turned to the courts for interim relief after the DA kicked her out earlier this week.
“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.
Zille is not in the country and could not be reached for comment.
The Cape High Court on Friday reserved judgment on an application by De Lille for an interim order to get her job back, but interdicted the Electoral Commission of South Africa from filling her vacancy on the city council.
This was after De Lille took on the DA and others in an effort to return to her post until a final determination was made by the same court on whether her dismissal from the party and her subsequent axing as mayor was unlawful or not.
De Lille was removed from office on Tuesday following a long-standing battle with the party’s leadership and after a fractious relationship between her and key members of the DA caucus in the City of Cape Town.
On Friday’s court proceedings dealt with “Part A” of De Lille’s application to return to her post for two weeks until “Part B” of her application is dealt with.
During Part B, to be argued on May 25, De Lille is challenging the constitutional validity of the clause used to remove her from office.
On Friday, De Lille’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, insisted that she was still a DA member, Cape Town mayor and a councillor because the DA’s cessation of her membership was unlawful.
Sean Rosenberg, counsel for the DA, contested this assertion, saying all proper processes had been followed in good faith when the decision was taken to axe her.
He said an interim interdict was “inappropriate”.
“She doesn’t seek to maintain the status quo, she seeks to reverse or rewind the status quo,” said Rosenberg. “Until such time as Part B of the (application) for relief is dealt with, the fact of the matter is the applicant is not a member of the DA, she is not a councillor and she is not the mayor.”Mpofu said the residents of Cape Town were in “limbo” as there was no functioning mayoral committee.
Mayco dissolved on Tuesday after DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe sent an email to the IEC informing it that De Lille was no longer a member of the party.
The drama stemmed from a radio interview De Lille had with Primedia talk show host Eusebius McKaiser in which she allegedly said she would resign from the DA once her name was cleared after several allegations of wrongdoing were made against her. This, according to the DA, constitutes prima facie evidence that De Lille intends to resign from the party.
According to Mpofu, the DA’s “internal machine” then set off an “unlawful process” which resulted in De Lille being 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 Neilsen, had not formed a new mayoral committee as he was waiting on the outcome of the court proceedings.
Mpofu argued 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.
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.
Rosenberg told the court that the party had reacted to a “public declaration” by De Lille during a radio interview of her intention to resign from the party .
The advocate 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 had been 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.”
This statement prompted a question from Judge Monde Samela: “This situation has been like this for a while. How will two more weeks prejudice the DA?”
Rosenberg admitted that De Lille’s alleged intention to resign represented a threat to the DA.