Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. Picture: THE TIMES
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. Picture: THE TIMES

The DA’s federal executive, the party’s highest decision-making body, has given the Cape Town caucus the green light for an internal motion of no confidence in beleaguered caucus leader Patricia de Lille.

Should the motion succeed, De Lille, who has effectively been governing the City of Cape Town on an opposition mandate, could be out of office before the end of April. Her deputy, Ian Neilson, would then take over as interim mayor.

Bonginkosi Madikizela, the Western Cape DA leader, said on Wednesday that the Cape Town caucus had presented the party’s federal executive, in great detail, with the factors that had led them to lose confidence in De Lille’s leadership.

Madikizela said the reasons given by the caucus included “the fact that they previously tested their confidence in the mayor and found that an overwhelming two-thirds majority of the caucus had lost faith in her ability to lead them”.

Madikizela said: “This was due, on their version, to her … breaching the code of conduct for councillors as well as the constitution of the DA relating to bringing the DA into disrepute and the breach of the conditions of her suspension.”

The caucus felt De Lille’s public conduct had amounted to frequent criticism of the DA and the party’s management of her case, “to the extent that it appears that she does not consider herself part of the DA any longer or at least considers herself more important than it and above the rules of the party”.

Her recent comment that “she ‘is no longer co-operating with the DA’, means that she cannot effectively govern on a DA mandate”.

According to the new DA “recall clause”, adopted at the party’s recent national congress, a DA representative in government can be recalled when caucus has lost confidence in that particular individual.

That member is given 48 hours to submit representations explaining why they should not resign. If those submissions are deemed not sufficient, the federal executive may terminate the individual’s membership. Madikizela said: “The accountability clause … allows for the party to establish confidence in any member of the executive.

“However, this must be done to ensure that members of the executive (mayors, premiers and presidents) are held to the high standard which has been set by the DA to serve the people who have elected us into government.”

He said the DA’s Cape Town caucus must now provide three working days’ notice before the motion of no confidence is debated and voted on.

De Lille said this week the latest move by the DA caucus “proves that the recall clause is a De Lille clause and that the DA constitution was especially amended to have me removed”.

In February, De Lille survived a DA-sponsored no-confidence debate in council by a single vote, largely because of the support from opposition parties, in the main the ANC, and partly because some DA councillors have remained loyal to her. This led to the situation that De Lille has effectively been governing on an opposition mandate.