A vote by the City of Cape Town’s DA caucus to toe the party line, and effectively clip the powers of mayor Patricia de Lille, could possibly be a precursor to her removal.
At the first council meeting of the year, De Lille’s powers were curtailed to the effect that she would not deal with the city's water crises and proposed drought levy, which has since been scrapped.
Cape Town’s transport head Melissa Whitehead was also suspended for covering up fraud and tender irregularities in which De Lille has been implicated.
This follows last week’s decision by the DA’s federal executive to charge and investigate De Lille for actions that negatively impacted the image of the party, for failing to perform her duties as mayor, for bringing the “good name of the party into disrepute”, and because she acted “in a manner that is unreasonable and detrimental to internal co-operation within the party”.
A DA councillor said trouble for De Lille started after the 2016 local government elections when the party won a two-thirds majority.
“The win of 66% was too much for her, the power went to her head. What made it worse was that there had already been internal issues,” said the councillor.
Former DA ward councillor Carin Brynard’s “breakdown” during a caucus meeting was some of the small things which had caused ructions in the party. Brynard would eventually quit the DA and defect to the Cape Party.
Another councillor said what had led to De Lille’s troubles was the appointment of those close to her to crucial positions in council such as Gerhard Ras, the former executive director of compliance and auxiliary services who was paid off R3.4 million in following the local government elections in 2016 when his position became obsolete because of a new organogram.
“When Grant (Twigg) beat Shaun August to become the DA’s new Cape Metro chair it also blew things open,” said the councillor.
Twigg has had an acrimonious relationship with De Lille after he was removed as Sub-Council 2 chairperson.
He said the DA’s win could not be attributed to De Lille and that it had a brand of its own, “not one individual person. It’s all about team work”.
Asked about his relationship with De Lille, he would only say he had good relationships with all his colleagues.
“We are all part of the DA, you take individual names and put them on the ballot and you’ll come up with a different result,” said Twigg.
ANC councillor and fierce De Lille critic Bheki Hadebe said the “shennanigans” within the city had happened with the full knowledge of DA councillors “as far back as 2015”.
“Why did they keep quiet?” asked Hadebe.
He called on more officials within the city to be hauled over the coals “so that we can come to the truth”.