Former Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille vacated her office yesterday, but the Democratic Alliance hasn’t seen the last of her as she has filed court papers against the City of Cape Town and the party.
De Lille wants the council’s adoption of a damning report on her conduct to be set aside, contending that law firm Bowmans made contradictory findings on the same misconduct charge against her. She also wants the DA to pay the costs of the application.
De Lille said the purpose of her court challenge was to clear her name.
“How can the same company conducting the same investigation on the same charge come to two different conclusions about me? One conclusion clears me of wrongdoing and the other finds me guilty and therefore needs to be investigated. That’s at the heart of the legal challenge.
“I only agreed to resign after the DA abandoned the Steenhuisen report due to lack of evidence and withdrew the charges against me.
“I was not prepared to resign with charges hanging over me.”
Yesterday two more DA city councillors resigned in support of De Lille. Echoing the accusations of the last five DA councillors who quit, namely that the Western Cape’s ruling party pushed a racial agenda and victimised some of its non-white members, councillor Philiswa Marman said she was saddened by the party’s handling of the De Lille matter.
“My reason for resigning is the inherent racism I found in the party. As a black person in the DA, I felt undermined, particularly as a portfolio committee chairperson in the City of Cape Town.
“During my last constituency meeting, I felt belittled by my constituency head, who kept interrupting me when I was speaking.
“I refuse to be treated like a maid in an organisation that preaches freedom and fairness.
“These are a few examples of the racism I have experienced.”
Councillor Johnathan Cupido penned a longer resignation letter to the same effect.
This week, DA federal leader Mmusi Maimane shot down this narrative, claiming some DA members were employing tactics akin to the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters by responding to accusations of corruption with claims of racial victimisation.
De Lille tendered her resignation to speaker Dirk Smit yesterday. She accused him of “singing for his supper” after he stated on Tuesday that he had laid criminal charges against De Lille and DA councillor Brett Herron.
Poll backlash worries DA
The DA’s federal leadership is concerned the party might be punished at the polls next year in the wake of the public relations nightmare arising from the feud with outgoing Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille.
According to a source close to the party’s principals: “They are now very concerned, especially after all the resignations. They are worried about how this will affect the coloured vote, especially in Cape Town, and the black urban vote.”
The ANC appears to be supporting De Lille, with a statement yesterday expressing concern about the exodus of councillors and wishing her well in her future endeavours.
Analyst Andre Duvenhage said: “She has enough support in the DA for her to carry a political position in some way, so I don’t doubt she will consider aligning herself with the ANC and in opposition to the DA.”
He said the fallout over graft allegations against De Lille might cost the party, whether it was justified or not.