Patricia de Lille. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Patricia de Lille. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Notwithstanding Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille’s spirited fight to reclaim her membership of the DA, her relationship with the party was irrevocably broken‚ the High Court in Cape Town heard on Tuesday.

The beleaguered mayor is challenging the constitutionality of the party’s “cessation clause”‚ which the DA invoked when it terminated her membership in May.

Her declaration during a Radio 702 interview with Eusebius McKaiser on April 26 appears to have been the tipping point. The contested clause says: “A member ceases to be a member when he or she … publicly declares his or her intention to resign … from the party.”

De Lille has been at pains to explain that she intended to resign from her mayoral position after clearing her name‚ but not from the party. But the DA’s counsel‚ Sean Rosenberg‚ would have none of it.

He told a full bench of judges it was clear at the time of the interview that relations between De Lille and the party were strained. It had “irrevocably broken down”, he said. “Anyone is aware that these are parties intending to part from each other. The only reason for staying and fighting is to restore her name and she is not going to restore her name by resigning … she will retain her name by staying and fighting the disciplinary process.” Rosenberg said the 702 interview characterised “the mischief which the clause is designed to weed [out]”.

The controversial clause was meant to “protect the party from disloyal members‚ particularly members who occupy high positions”.

Rosenberg also said the party had charged De Lille with “serious charges of maladministration and nepotism”, but she had “stonewalled” the disciplinary process by lodging several lawsuits. As a result‚ the disciplinary process could take a “number of years”.

In court papers‚ De Lille accuses the DA of double standards. As an elected public representative‚ she could be removed from her position only through a vote of no confidence or a guilty finding in a fair disciplinary process. “Both are absent in the present case‚” she argues.

The case continues.