Patricia de Lille. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
Patricia de Lille. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Patricia de Lille’s drawn-out battle with the DA took yet another twist on Thursday when the party agreed not to permanently fill the position of Cape Town mayor pending the outcome of court proceedings.

De Lille’s deputy, Ian Neilson, will continue to act in the position until the legal matters are finalised.

De Lille rejected the DA’s offer, saying it was for the Electoral Commission of SA and not political parties to decide whether to leave a post open.

De Lille, whose membership of the DA was terminated on Tuesday, has launched a two-part court challenge, which will be heard in the High Court in Cape Town on Friday.

In part A of her application, De Lille wants to interdict the city from declaring a mayoral vacancy, while in part B she is seeking to have the DA clause on “automatic cessation” of party membership declared invalid.

In his responding affidavit on behalf of the DA, James Selfe, the party’s chairman of the federal executive, said lawyers had written to De Lille’s legal representatives, proposing that the mayoral and council vacancy caused by the termination of her DA membership be preserved.

He also said De Lille’s prospects of success in part B were very slim. “The applicant has not raised any plausible basis on which the [automatic cessation of membership] clause is unconstitutional. Her statement [that she would resign] was clear and unequivocal, and her subsequent recantation irrelevant. The process followed was lawful and fair.”

Natasha Mazzone, the DA’s deputy chairwoman of federal council, said the party had not “and will not offer to keep Patricia de Lille on as mayor of the City of Cape Town”.

Selfe said there were a number of disputes between the DA and De Lille, which relate to two main issues. The first was that the DA caucus in Cape Town was dissatisfied with her leadership style, which had resulted in two motions of no confidence in the former mayor. The second pertained to the allegations that she abused her power while in office, which had led to two disciplinary proceedings — one in the city council and another in the DA.

Selfe said De Lille had made it clear that she intended to resign from the party once she had cleared her name.

Her utterances had triggered the automatic cessation clause, which states that membership ceases once a member publicly declares his or her intention to resign and/or publicly resigns.

“A member who publicly declares that they intend to leave the DA can no longer be counted on to act in the DA’s interests,” said Selfe.