Patricia de Lille. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Patricia de Lille. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

A recommendation by DA leader Mmusi Maimane that Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille be stripped of some of her powers cannot be sustained as it goes against legislative prescripts and council resolutions, according to a legal opinion drawn up by metro’s legal services team.

De Lille sought the opinion after Maimane shifted the council’s response to the drought from her office to her deputy, Ian Neilson, and mayoral committee member responsible for water Xanthea Limberg, arguing that since the mayor was involved in disciplinary hearings, she would not be able to give crucial water projects all her attention.

De Lille was hauled before the party’s federal disciplinary committee on a number of charges including maladministration and ignoring misconduct and tender irregularities. She was, however, allowed to remain in her position as mayor pending the outcome of the disciplinary processes.

According to the council legal services team, section 56 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act sets out the and powers of the executive mayor. In terms of this section, the
mayor must identify and prioritise the needs of the municipality, recommend strategies to tackle priority needs and determine the best way to deliver on those strategies.

"The mayor has obviously identified water resilience and drought response as priority needs and in order to deliver on strategies designed to tackle those needs, it was decided to recommend to council that the necessary structures be put in place. Accordingly … council resolved to create a water resilience advisory committee in terms of section 80 of the Structures Act to advise the water resilience task team [which reports to the mayor]," the legal opinion states.

According to the opinion, the proposal by Maimane to the DA caucus in council "seeks to recommend to the caucus that they seek to circumvent the prescripts of the legislative provisions and content of the council resolutions outlined above".

"It must be noted that section 56(6) of the Structures Act provides that the deputy mayor may only exercise the powers and duties of the mayor when she is absent or the office of the executive mayor is vacant. Since neither of those criteria exists currently, it is further not possible that the deputy mayor assume the role suggested to the caucus by DA leader [Maimane]."

De Lille said the legal opinion had been forwarded to the DA.