Patricia de Lille’s removal ‘threatens DA’s brand in Cape Town’
The implosion of the marriage of convenience between Patricia de Lille’s Independent Democrats (ID) and the DA was a long time coming because the two are not cut from the same philosophical cloth.
This is political analyst Daniel Silke’s assessment of the rift between De Lille and the DA, which culminated in an announcement on Tuesday by the party that it had rescinded De Lille’s membership.
The long-running fight between De Lille and the DA would damage the party’s brand in Cape Town, which was seen as a "crown jewel".
"If this were another metro, it [the fighting] would not have been seen as symbolically important," Silke said.
Deputy chairwoman of the DA’s federal council Natasha Mazzone said: "It is no secret that the DA has suffered … damage because of this issue due to the lack of information presented to our voters."
The DA’s decision was based on an interview De Lille gave to 702, during which she said she would leave the party after clearing her name.
Some ID members were expected to leave the DA as a result of De Lille’s removal.
De Lille’s deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, will take over in Cape Town in the interim.
De Lille said on Tuesday at a media briefing following the DA’s decision she would petition the courts to interdict city manager Lungelo Mbandazayo from declaring a vacancy.
She cited her decision to push for transformation in the City of Cape Town as the reason for her removal.
The ANC, which is the official opposition in the City of Cape Town, said it would hold a media briefing on Wednesday to address the implications of the DA’s decision on the running of the city.
DA federal council chairman James Selfe said its constitution provided that a member ceased to be a member when he or she publicly declared his or her intention to resign.
De Lille’s ID merged with the DA at a time when the DA was seeking to consolidate its support in Cape Town and the Western Cape. The ID still enjoys significant support in the Western Cape, which might dent the DA’s electoral performance in the province come the 2019 general election.
In her court application, De Lille cites the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Cape Town city manager and the DA as respondents. She said she remained mayor, pending the conclusion of the court processes. "I am going back to my office this afternoon … I am going to have a meeting with the deputy mayor and the city manager."
Neilson disagreed, saying the committee appointed by De Lille had been dissolved with immediate effect.
In terms of the Municipal Structures Act, when the mayoral post is vacant, the deputy mayor automatically holds all mayoral authority until such time when a new executive mayor is elected by council.
"As it stands‚ at this moment‚ only the speaker [Dirk Smit] and I are political authorities in the City of Cape Town‚" Neilson said.
De Lille had been serving on a DA ticket, as residents voted directly for the party during the municipal elections — not her.
Neilson said Mbandazayo had informed the IEC about the vacancy in the council. "We await due process to unfold and we will communicate further in due course."
The challenge for the DA now was to find a suitable candidate with a similar appeal to De Lille’s to attract voters. Also, the DA had to address division in the city to restore voter confidence, Silke said.