CAPE TOWN - Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is looking forward to having the allegations against her properly tested when her Democratic Alliance disciplinary hearing gets underway on Tuesday, but will also ask for the recusal of one of the hearing panel members.
"At this stage, my main concern is to ensure that the public understands what these charges are about," she said on Sunday.
A key consideration in her disciplinary matter was - given the widespread coverage and public interest in this matter - whether the public/media would be allowed access to the hearing, she said.
Her lawyers had emphasised to the DA that she could only restore her reputation if the public was able to view and assess for themselves whether the process was fair. The DA, however, wanted a closed hearing, and quite ironically it was DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, who fought for her own disciplinary hearing to be open when she was at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), who was now leading the fight for a secret hearing.
"But as we know, there is always a different standard when it comes to me: secret ballot for [former president Jacob] Zuma’s vote of no-confidence; open vote for De Lille; premier Helen Zille could attend caucus meetings while she was suspended while I was not allowed to.
"It is also unfortunately often reported, needless to say at the instigation of my political opponents, that I stand accused of covering up 'corruption' perpetrated by city officials, more particularly the actions of commissioner for transport Ms Melissa Whitehead," De Lille said.
"This is not true. In fact, the bulk of the charges concern allegations of highly technical transgressions which do not involve me at all, other than the contention that as the 'boss' of the city I should be held liable. These charges originate from reports compiled by the executive director in my office Mr Craig Kesson, which is currently being investigated by the law firm Bowman Gilfillan.
"I have not been accused of corruption in any of these matters and have given my full support for these investigations. These matters are technical in nature and fall under the jurisdiction of senior administrative leadership in the city. Why the party is pursing me on this issue baffles the mind," she said.
Secondly, in the so-called Steenhuisen Report it was suggested that the DA await the outcome of the city’s processes, "but in the increasingly desperate attempts to get rid of me this advice has been disregarded".
A few other misperceptions also needed to be corrected. DA federal executive chairman James Selfe was quoted in Sunday's Rapport newspaper as saying her disciplinary hearing was scheduled for January 5, 2018, but that the hearing could not continue as she went to court to challenge the Steenhuisen Report.
"I hope for him that he was misquoted and that he did not have a Donald Trump moment. I am challenging the Steenhuisen Report in court, but I was careful to exclude from that challenge any parts of the report which are the subject of the disciplinary hearing.
"The fact of the matter is that it was the party that showed no interest in pursuing the charges against me until the motion of no confidence in me was defeated on 14 February. Within hours thereafter, its federal legal commission was in contact with my legal representatives to rush ahead with the disciplinary.
“We will show on Tuesday that while the party in theory has structures such as local caucuses, legal commissions, councils etc, in reality all the decisions are simply taken by three or four individuals who rush around putting different hats on as they go along," De Lille said.
She had also asked that her disciplinary be led by an independent and impartial person to ensure a fair process. The DA was yet to respond to this demand.
As things stood, the hearing was to be chaired by Tlokwe councillor Hans-Jurie Moolman, "his friend and fellow councillor" Pogiso Monchusi, and former deputy minister of “justice” in apartheid South Africa Sheila Camerer.
"We will ask for Camerer to recuse herself. Apart from her past, she is neither competent nor suitable to hear the matter. To the best of my knowledge she hasn’t practiced law in decades and she is a known political opponent. Nevertheless, I will appear at the hearing on Tuesday and look forward to having the allegations against me properly tested," De Lille said.
African News Agency/ANA