DA crisis deepens after Patricia de Lille's court win
Ipsos poll in May says DA would at that time have needed a partner to hold on to Western Cape
The DA’s internal crisis deepened on Wednesday as Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille again whipped the party in the courtroom and vowed to continue her fight to clear her name.
The High Court in Cape Town on Wednesday set aside her dismissal from the party for being unprocedural and inconsistent with the DA constitution.
De Lille will be back in the same court on Thursday in a separate application to compel the party to provide her with details of the internal inquiry that investigated allegations against her, headed by DA chief whip in Parliament John Steenhuisen.
The fight between De Lille and the party heavyweights in the federal council is now set to drag down the DA even further as it edges towards the 2019 election.
Ipsos polls conducted in May indicated that if the DA had gone into an election at the time, it would have lost its majority and would have needed to find a coalition partner to hold on to the Western Cape.
A combination of private polls and early indicators from the Pulse of the People study conducted by Ipsos over the first four months of 2018 showed that the DA was polling at 20%, which was lower than the 22% support it received in the 2014 national elections.
Mari Harris, director of public affairs for market and opinion at Ipsos, said this could not only be attributed to the De Lille saga, but was a combination of issues facing the party.
The DA has been at an impasse over De Lille since late 2017, following allegations of maladministration and corruption against her.
De Lille approached the court in May to challenge the constitutionality of the party’s “automatic cessation clause”, which was used to terminate her party membership. This was after a radio interview in which De Lille said she would resign after clearing her name. The clause states that membership ceases once a party member publicly declares his or her intention to resign and or publicly does so.
Patricia de Lille has been vindicated by the Western Cape High Court after two days of argument.
De Lille now wants the court to compel the DA to provide her with details of what transpired in a commission headed by Steenhuisen, which found her guilty on a number of allegations regarding her leadership.
“I would like to defend myself, but I would like to see the original complaint, the original people with names, and exactly what transpired in the Steenhuisen commission,” she said. “It is in the Steenhuisen commission that I was found guilty without due process and without a hearing.”
She said in May the court had ordered that the DA provide her with the information, but this had not happened. “I want to go to a disciplinary hearing, I want to subject myself to due process, but then they must give me the original complaint so that my lawyers can prepare.”
The battle between the DA and De Lille is likely to become a protracted legal one. As things move along, a growing number of processes are likely to be challenged.
The DA in the meantime is looking at appealing Wednesday’s judgment, which set aside the termination of De Lille’s party membership.
The high court also found that the DA’s federal legal council, which deals with disciplinary matters, had not been properly constituted in terms of the its own constitution.
This means that any decision taken by this body since it was selected in 2015 could be reviewed.
DA deputy federal council chairwoman Natasha Mazzone said the DA was studying the judgment because there could have been a “misunderstanding” by the court on the lawfulness of the body.
The DA was of the view that the federal legal council was lawfully constituted.
She said the DA would also look at moving a motion of no confidence in De Lille in the Cape Town council. The council is in winter recesses so it is not clear when this will happen.