Patricia de Lille resigns as Cape Town mayor. Picture: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX
Patricia de Lille resigns as Cape Town mayor. Picture: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX

After months of in-fighting, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has struck a deal with the leadership of the DA and has agreed to step down on October 31. All internal disciplinary charges against her have been dropped and she will remain a member of the DA, she announced at a joint press conference with DA party leader Mmusi Maimane on Sunday.

De Lille, who was elected mayor as mayor in 2011, has been battling party members who sought to oust her over her leadership style. She has been accused of nepotism and maladministration, and Cape Town got its first qualified audit in many years under her watch.

“I have always maintained that I am innocent and that the allegations against me have never been proven,” said De Lille. “Now that the DA has withdrawn the charges against me and I have cleared my name, I have decided to step aside,” she said.

“0ur country is facing some massive challenges ... what our country needs now more than ever, is for its leaders to put their differences aside and work even harder to address (the) historical imbalances in our society,” she said.

She declined to be drawn on her role after the end of October.

De Lille narrowly survived a vote of no confidence in February, thanks in part to the support of ANC councillors. In April, an internal DA caucus motion of no confidence prevailed and she was stripped of her party membership, but that decision was set aside by the High Court in Cape Town in June.

She was due to face another DA-led vote of no confidence on July 26 but won an eleventh hour reprieve, after she reached an agreement with the party leadership that she would face a disciplinary process within a fortnight, and that it would be held in public.

Maimane said the DA would immediately begin the process to elect a new mayor for Cape Town.

He emphasised that the agreement reached with De Lille related only to internal DA disciplinary matters, and other investigations by the City were not covered by it.

The party is still pursuing its legal challenge to the June court ruling reinstating her membership, because that judgement also found the DA’s federal legal commission was improperly constituted. That aspect of the ruling has far reaching implications, as it means previous decisions taken by the federal legal commission — such as are open to challenge.

“The appeal is still going ahead,” said Maimane.

The ANC in the Western Cape described the agreement reached between De Lille and the DA as “illicit”, as it enabled the DA to impose a mayor on Cape Town that had not been chosen its voters.

“This arrangement will not change facts on the ground. The polls are showing massive decline in DA support and that ANC is fast closing the gap. This is driving the DA (in) desperation to settle the De Lille matter even if it means covering the allegations of corruption and nepotism they accuse her of,” the ANC’s Western Cape caucus leader Xolani Sotashe  said in a statement.