The DA’s federal council chairperson, James Selfe, confirmed that the legal commission was in talks with De Lille’s lawyer to set a date on which she would face charges, which could be “before mid-next month”.
In a week marked by drama in the council meeting and a court bid, De Lille survived a motion of no confidence against her by a single vote, after the council speaker, Dirk Smit, took a decision that voting, which took place amidst a tense and emotionally charged atmosphere, would not be secret.
DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said De Lille would now have to face “the serious” charges, adding that “the situation is not an ideal one”, as De Lille should have stepped aside.
“While we agree with the principle that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, it is difficult to be in her position, in which she is facing serious allegations and still continues carrying out her duties. The allegations resulted in some officials resigning and others being suspended,” he added.
However, shortly after Thursday’s victory, De Lille maintained that the allegations against her “must be tested in an open and transparent process”.
“I remain open to subjecting myself to due process and to exercise my right to give my side of the story,” she added.
During the special council meeting, councillors from opposition parties voiced concern about the motion of no confidence and questioned the “urgency” to have it debated before the outcome of the investigations against De Lille. They also demanded information, which they felt would help them. Some also charged that DA leader Mmusi Maimane and Selfe were meddling in council affairs.
ANC councillor Noluthando Makasi said: “You have forever been investigating many issues, but outcomes don’t come. This is your matter as the DA internally. The federal executive that is running this council told Capetonians they would take 60 days to sort this out, but now they are running away and they want council to do their dirty work."
Cope’s Farouk Cassim claimed that the motion of no confidence was based on “baseless and manufactured reasons”, while the ANC’s Xolani Sotashe said: “It is clear that you (Smit) received instructions from Maimane and Selfe on how to run the council. You are being coerced to manage us. Selfe... is actually running this council."
The divisions in the DA caucus also emerged in court papers and arguments earlier in the week, when the Western Cape High Court heard an urgent application by De Lille to force the DA to ensure a secret ballot during the motion of no confidence to ensure that councillors voted without feeling that they were being forced or intimidated or unduly influenced into voting in a particular way.
“They must be able to vote without fear of disapproval by others, or of reprisal,” De Lille’s senior counsel, Dali Mpofu, argued.
Mpofu argued that while the DA had claimed that it did not object to a secret ballot, it felt that it was not necessary: “They hold the view of a free vote but reject our argument that a free vote can only be a secret vote in this context... What are they afraid of?”
De Lille now faces the task of uniting a divided council across political affiliations.
She said she was committed to working with all councillors and residents to “continue making progress possible together and making this great city even greater”.