De Lille slams probe, refutes 'vague' allegations
Cape Town - Sunday is D-Day for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille as the Democratic Alliance’s federal executive committee meets to discuss her fate after months of accusations and counter-accusations.
A sub-committee of the federal executive chaired by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, was tasked with an investigation into allegations against De Lille which included: maladministration, cadre deployment, interference with recruitment of certain individuals and strained relations within the DA caucus.
It concluded its probe and submitted a report, which will now be discussed at Sunday’s meeting which is also expected to discuss her response.
A copy of the response which the Weekend Argus has seen, refutes the allegations, some of which she has termed “vague”.
In it, she raises concerns about the real purpose and objectivity of the probe, as well as the fact that she was not allowed proper access to the statements and full submissions by those who laid complaints and witnesses.
The report, in which De Lille also laments “lack of detail” and the “vague” nature of the allegations, gives a glimpse into the tensions within the DA caucus which have been bubbling for over 18 months.
It also provides what De Lille sees as steps that could be taken to assist in resolving the tensions in the caucus.
It is understood that about week ago, a draft report by PWC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers) which conducted an investigation into one of the issues investigated by the sub-committee, related to unauthorised transactions in the cash management of the contract with a company managing the running of MyCiTi bus operations.
It had been alleged that the City had suffered a loss of over R36million as a result of corruption and failure to manage the contract correctly and that De Lille covered up for the implicated senior manager, Melissa Whitehead.
According to the interim report, the alleged R36m could not be confirmed as a loss of revenue or fraud and that there was not sufficient evidence on a transaction level to back up the claims.
Service provider Station Management Contract had dismissed or suspended various cashiers for alleged fraudulent transactions amounting to R1.2m.
Mayoral executive committee member for safety JP Smith made allegations of nepotism and interference by De Lille in a dossier which he sent to party leaders last year.
But De Lille rejected with “contempt” suggestions that she intervened to amend a shortlist of candidates made by a selection panel for the board of the Cape Town Stadium municipal entity.
“The panel concluded that she possessed considerable potential, and as a black, previously disadvantaged female, this created an opportunity to bring further diversity to the board.
“The panel also considered that she had expertise in the areas of law, finance and property,” she said.
The appointment of a candidate, a De Lille relative, was halted by deputy mayor Ian Neilson who was allegedly not happy with the shortlisting.
“At the time of the shortlisting and selection I was out of the country. Upon my return I was briefed by Neilson on the process. It appeared that he was under the misconception that the candidate had not been scored.
“I explained that if the candidate was removed we would be exposed and suggested to him that if he was adamant that other candidates be included on the board that we should consider increasing the composition of the board,” she responded.
De Lille explained the appointment of her family member by the City as having been done long before she became mayor.
“She has the necessary qualifications including a degree and experience as a municipal manager which make her fit for purpose."
“I am certainly against the abuse of employment process to favour the family and friends of public office bearers,” she said.
She denied knowledge of alleged claims by “poo protester” Loyiso Nkohla that he had told officials and councillors or resident community members that he carried the mayor’s mandate or reported directly to her.
“If it is so that he was doing these things as alleged, I find it surprising that his alleged conduct has not been reported to the City manager with the view to it being investigated and possible disciplinary steps if in fact it merited such steps,” De Lille said.
On the alleged closing down of the special investigation unit, she denied it was “shut down” but rather that as a result of concerns, among others by the Speaker, its mandate and scope was changed.
A letter, which formed part of the response, by a senior provincial official also confirmed that there was no legislation to authorise the metro police service to conduct a crime investigation function.
She did not deny that relations between her and Smith were strained and added that she in turn had laid complaints against Smith within the party structures, but was advised by the federal legal commission that these would not be investigated while there was an investigation under way as it did not want to have “parallel” probes.
The report contains copies of affidavits and statements as evidence to back up her explanations.
While there was speculation about the fate of De Lille, the DA's federal executive chairperson James Selfe said the committee did not have the power to remove a mayor.
“There are two ways a mayor can be removed - first by a vote of no confidence and secondly by losing membership of the party that nomi- nated him/her. Moreover, the federal executive cannot find anyone guilty of charges, that is a task of the federal legal commission,” he said.
Asked about the PWC interim report, Selfe said the committee was aware of its existence but had not seen it.