Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille with her lawyer John Riley in court. Picture: Phandulwazi Jikelo/ANA.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday welcomed the high court judgment handed down which said that a decision on whether a motion of no confidence in Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille should take place in secret be taken by the city council speaker.

The DA said it had long held that the decision to on whether to vote in secret or not be taken by council.

The Western Cape High Court on Wednesday ruled that the speaker of the city council is to decide on whether a vote of no confidence in De Lille will be done by secret ballot or not. De Lille had approached the court seeking to have the motion of no confidence done by secret ballot.

Leader of the DA in the Western Cape, Bonginkosi Madikizela, said in a statement: "We welcome the court’s finding’s that the decision to grant a secret ballot remains the prerogative of the City Council as it should be."
Madikizela added that the council will on Thursday consider a motion of no confidence against the mayor and this will stem from unhappiness by many of the caucus members in the City.

"It is important that this matter is concluded so that we can get back to the business of delivering services to the people of Cape Town and #DefeatDayZero," Madikizela said of the water crisis gripping the city.

Earlier, Judge Robert Henney said: "The speaker should be mindful in exercising his discretion to decide on whether the vote will be made by secret ballot on 15 February 2018."

Judge Henney said that in his view the application by De Lille to have the court decide on the merits of a vote by secret ballot was justified.

De Lille said afterwards that she is very happy that the court confirmed that she was justified to bring the matter before it.

READ MORE: WATCH: Court rules Speaker must decide on #DeLille secret vote

"The speaker must use discretion to have the secret vote or not. People should be allowed to vote with their conscience and that is the victory for today," De Lille said.

According to De Lille, the DA on the morning of the case admitted to instructing its caucus on how to vote.

De Lille added: "All instructions given to the caucus by the DA is now falling away. I was concerned about the fairness. This echoes the Constitutional Court ruling of the UDM case where the court asked the Speaker of the National Assembly to use her discretion in making a decision regarding a secret ballot.

"I came to court to test our own constitution. I came here for councillors to make up their own minds and to decide and have created a space where councillors don't have to be afraid," said De Lille.

De Lille's lawyers were set to contact Speaker Dirk Smit about the outcome of the case.

"If the speaker is not in agreement (with the court judgement) he will have to delay the vote. Regardless of how the vote goes tomorrow, I will respect the outcome" said De Lille.

The court application comes after the DA laid bribery and corruption charges against De Lille recently and also accused her of misconduct.

The corruption charges are related to an alleged attempt by De Lille to solicit a R5-million bribe from a Vanderbijlpark businessman Anthony Foul in 2012. She allegedly sought money in exchange for her support of Foul's company to supply fire extinguishers to Cape Town informal settlements. 

De Lille denies these claims and states that the accusations are just another attempt to tarnish her name. 

The motion of no confidence against the mayor is due to be heard at the Council Chambers at the Civic Centre at 10 am on Thursday.

African News Agency/ANA