City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille with her advocate‚ Dali Mpofu. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille with her advocate‚ Dali Mpofu. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Beleaguered Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has once again hurled a spanner into the works of prolonged DA efforts to remove her as mayor and continues to cling to her position.

De Lille has waged a titanic battle for more than a year against her party’s campaign to get rid of her and has clung on to her position despite growing signals since January that her days are numbered.

On Friday, shortly before the DA federal council sat down to deliberate her fate, De Lille presented the party’s lawyers with a draft of the urgent application that she said she intended to launch immediately in the high court should the council decide that she must resign as mayor.

The city council immediately suspended proceedings so that its lawyers could consider her legal papers.

It is expected to resume its meeting on Monday or Tuesday.

DA federal executive council deputy chairwoman Natasha Mazzone emphasised that procedural fairness and courtesy demanded that De Lille’s papers be considered before a decision was taken, otherwise it could be challenged.

Notwithstanding the delay, the DA does appear more determined than ever to remove De Lille.

At its national congress in May, the DA strengthened its ability to remove errant leaders, by adopting a controversial "recall clause" in its constitution.

The clause is modelled on the ANC’s practice of the removal of leaders by a vote of executive structures in between national conferences.

The recall clause states: "If the president, a premier, a mayor or any other public representative elected or appointed to any executive position in a DA government, has lost the confidence of his or her caucus, the federal executive may, after giving him or her the opportunity to make representations to it, resolve to require him or her to resign from his or her office within 48 hours."

Once a decision was reached, said De Lille, her next move would be to challenge the recall clause in court, which she said was "draconian and unconstitutional".

Federal executive chairman James Selfe said that in making its decision the council would have to consider the arguments made by the DA caucus in the city council, which adopted a motion of no confidence in her.

Most of the complaints, said Selfe, related to a lack of accountability and De Lille’s "dictatorial" style of management, which allegedly rendered the city council dysfunctional.

Selfe said the council would also have to consider whether to take into account the arguments put forward by De Lille in her urgent application.

De Lille said in an interview on Sunday that she believed that the recall clause had been adopted specifically to remove her.

She said she believed that it could not be applied retrospectively, which meant that any complaints that the federal executive council had against her, could only relate to her actions after the resolution was adopted.

Were the council to decide to recall her as mayor, De Lille would have 48 hours to resign, failing which she will lose her party membership.

Independent of the bid to remove her as mayor, the DA has also laid disciplinary charges against De Lille.

Tensions within the DA over De Lille date back to January 2017, when after a confrontation with the DA leadership, she resigned as leader of the DA in the Western Cape to be replaced by Western Cape Housing MEC Bongi Madikizela.