Advocate Dali Mpofu, Mayor Patricia de Lille, and advocate Johan de Waal walk to court. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA

Cape Town - Embattled mayor Patricia de Lille will survive the no confidence motion against her on Thursday only if voting takes place in secret, the Western Cape High Court has heard.

Should it be an open vote she will be axed her legal team, led by advocate Dali Mpofu SC, argued in her urgent application to have councillors vote in secret in Thursday’s no confidence motion against her.

Judgment will be at 2pm on Wednesday.

Mpofu argued that a secret ballot was the only way to protect councillors from the DA bosses who they fear might intimidate or even fire those who vote against the motion.

“We know that they want to remove her. They have made it abundantly clear in media statements that they want the mayor out of office. And she has said that she is okay with that. But let’s be honest, those councillors won’t vote freely if they know that James Selfe and Mmusi (Maimane) are watching them,” Mpofu said.

He said the magical number needed for the motion to succeed was 116.

“There are 231 councillors in the City of Cape Town. They would need 116 councillors to succeed. Now there are about 59 DA councillors who were initially against the motion. Let’s say that same number (59) votes against the motion and together with the 77 councillors in the council the motion will fail. The DA has about 154 councillors, but only 84 voted in favour of the but only 84 voted in favour of the  motion.

“In the very first meeting James Selfe went to the DA councillors and gave them instruction as to how to vote. But now they have changed their tune. How can we trust that,” he asked.

Judge Robert Henny also raised the issue of Selfe and his meetings.

“I am worried that there was not a similar vigour in communicating to councillors that they can vote as they wish without any repercussions,” Judge Henny said.

Mpofu also said the DA  has been using dirty tricks to get De Lille out.

“They want to get rid of her by manipulating the rules of council,” he said. 

Advocate Ismail Jamie, representing 

the DA, said the laws governing municipalities do not make provision for the secret ballot.

“If you made such a decision, you would be in breach of the separation of powers. The DA will not give instruction to its councillors on how to vote. 

“They have been told that they will be given a free vote. This case has all to do with her  political survival. She thinks she has a better chance to survive as mayor if its a secret ballot. But that does not constitute a legal case. It’s hogwash.”

Cape Argus