How the DA faces double mayoral jeopardy
The DA now has two mayors it is struggling to get rid of in its Western Cape stronghold.
The party, which has been struggling to get rid of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, on Monday last week also failed to remove errant Knysna mayor Mark Willemse through a motion of no confidence.
Willemse supported an ANC-sponsored motion of no confidence in his party colleague Eleanor Bouw-Spies. He was subsequently voted in as mayor, a move DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela described as a "coup".
The party is now stuck with Willemse and cannot bring a similar motion of no confidence in him for the time being.
The DA has struggled for more than half a year to axe Cape Town mayor De Lille in what has become a public spat which has made its way to the High Court in Cape Town. There was seemingly no current end in sight as the DA has indicated that it would appeal against judgment in which the High Court in Cape Town set aside her dismissal from the party as unprocedural and inconsistent with the DA constitution.
The first attempt at a vote of no confidence against Willemse failed after the meeting did not reach a quorum and could therefore not take place at the end of June. The motion then failed when it went to a vote a few days later on July 2.
It will now be up to the DA’s internal disciplinary processes to take control of the situation, as it is understood that the caucus cannot table the same motion of no confidence again within the next three months, according to council rules.
The disciplinary will only happen in August. Willemse has refused to step down after having been asked to do so by the provincial leadership.
Anton Bredell, DA chairperson in the Western Cape, said the disciplinary hearing against Knysna’s Willemse and councillor Peter Myers, who had voted against the party line with Willemse, was still in process.
"The DA firmly believes in due processes and will ensure that the outcomes are in the best interest of the people of Knysna. The hearing has been postponed till later in August and will take place in Knysna," Bredell said.
The Knysna situation shows the difficulty of navigating coalitions, as the Western Cape municipality is a hung council in which the DA does not have the majority. Congress of the People councillor Elrick van Aswegen was voted in as Willemse’s deputy after the ANC’s motion succeeded against Bouw-Spies.
Cope is in a national coalition with the DA, the United Democratic Front, the African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus, following the 2016 local elections.