DA FedEx confirms the cessation of Patricia de Lille’s membership

Issued by Natasha Mazzone – Deputy Chairperson of Federal Council
08 May 2018 in News

Please see the original charge sheet. Please see the frequently asked questions.

The Democratic Alliance leadership would like to provide feedback to the residents of Cape Town and the people of South Africa regarding the matter between the party and Mayor Patricia de Lille.

The party is deeply concerned about the impact this has had on the residents of Cape Town – the people we serve – and the general public. It is no secret that the DA has suffered immeasurable damage because of this issue due to the lack of information presented to our voters.

That is why -when it was legally permissible to do so- the party has sought to be as transparent as possible as to what led to the disciplinary matter between Ms De Lille and the party.

At all times, the DA has followed due process in addressing the matter, while acting in the best interests of all the people of Cape Town and abiding by our deep commitment to delivering clean, accountable and transparent government wherever we may govern.

In the latter part of 2017, the leadership of the Democratic Alliance became aware of problems in its representatives in the City of Cape Town. This resulted from both tensions in the caucus as well as allegations of maladministration involving senior politicians and officials in the City.

Confronted with this, we appointed a sub-committee of the Federal Executive, under the chairpersonship of John Steenhuisen, to look into these matters. At roughly the same time, the City itself appointed the law firm Bowman Gilfillan to investigate the allegations of maladministration.

The Steenhuisen sub-committee interviewed a number of councillors and officials of the City and was provided with documentation. It came to the conclusion that there were matters that pointed to prima facie misconduct in terms of the DA Constitution, as well as other matters that required further investigation.

The Federal Executive, after inviting the Mayor to provide an account of these matters, decided on 14 January this year to charge her with misconduct. A charge sheet was served on her and is provided herewith. We had hoped to conclude this matter within two months. We believed that this was in the interests of both the Mayor and the Party. However, instead of cooperating with the investigation, the Mayor challenged the Party’s processes by introducing a number of interlocutory matters, including that the hearing be open to the public and that it should be conducted by independent persons.

This is simply not the way the Party works. Our processes are regulated by the Constitution of the DA and the Rules of the Federal Legal Commission. There are not one set of Rules for Patricia de Lille and another for others in the Party. However, the consideration and adjudication of these matters hugely delayed the processes, with the result that the substantive issues on which she stands accused have not yet been dealt with. In much the same way as Jacob Zuma, she wants her day in Court, but sets up barriers to getting there. Her actions were not consistent with someone who desperately wanted to clear her name. Instead, she sought to delay the process at every step.

While these processes were unfolding, the City itself was confronted with the first report by Bowmans. Pursuant to these findings the City Council resolved to suspend some officials, and to conduct further investigations into the conduct of both these officials and politicians, including the Mayor herself. These investigations are ongoing and will report in due course.

Both these investigations and the matters that had come to light in the course of them, caused the DA in the City to lose confidence in the Mayor and the way she was running the City. Early in January, a substantial majority of the DA Caucus requested us to permit them to move a motion of no confidence. We gave permission, and the motion was defeated by a single vote in the Council. Over 70% of her caucus voted for the motion; yet she remained Mayor thanks to the grace and favour of the ANC/EFF and some 40 DA colleagues.

Ever since the days of Peter Marais and Basil Petrus, the erstwhile Mayor of George, the Democratic Alliance has sought a mechanism where executive office-bearers in government can be held to account for sub-standard performance. We had for some time been mulling the introduction of an “accountability clause” which would provide that such an executive office-bearer who had lost the confidence of his or her peers could be removed from office.

At the recent Congress, the Party adopted such a clause not only because of the situation in Cape Town, but because we want our executive office-bearers to be persons who relentlessly serve the interests of the voters where we govern. We believed, and still believe, that any office-bearer who no longer enjoys the confidence of his or her peers can no longer serve in such a post.

I must emphasise that a motion of no confidence does not always relate to “allegations” or “charges”. It can be introduced because of inefficiency or even style. It is a political judgement, not a legal finding.

The Federal Executive has already received three applications from DA caucuses to introduce such motions in various executive office-bearers: from Matzikamma, from Cape Town and from Stellenbosch. The Federal Executive acceded to these requests, and in Matzikamma and Cape Town, the caucuses have voted that they had no confidence in the Mayor, in each case by overwhelming majorities.

The procedure thereafter is that the office-bearer is given the opportunity to make representations why he or she should not resign from that post (and not as a councillor or a member). These are considered by the Federal Executive, who must decide whether or not the individual must resign.

The Mayor of Matzikamma requested an extension, but the Mayor of Cape Town provided such representations, which included a demand that a number of members of the Federal Executive recuse themselves on the grounds that they were allegedly biased. While denying this, the members did recuse themselves. The remaining members debated the motion and the representations for approximately three hours, but adjourned the debate having received draft court papers from Ms de Lille challenging the validity of the accountability clause.

In the meanwhile, Ms de Lille took part in a radio interview with Eusebius McKaiser on Radio 702 on 26 April 2018. In the course of this interview, Ms de Lille on two occasions indicated that she intended to resign from the DA as soon as she “had cleared her name”. The first was as follows:

EM:  Let’s say the morning after you win the legal case, however, do you really want to still be part of the DA?

PdL: No, no, no, no, I’ve said it many times before, Eusebius, you know, the writing’s on the wall that people don’t want me for whatever reason.

On another occasion, Mr McKaiser asks:

EM: If I hear you, you are saying, ideally I want to clear my name, Eusebius, that’s why I am going to court and if I win this battle, and when I win it because I know I’ve done nothing wrong, then the morning after I have won the court case then I will resign from the DA.

PdL: I will walk away. You summed it up correctly.

The Democratic Alliance Constitution provides, in section that

“A member ceases to be a member when he or she  publicly declares his or her intention to resign and/or publicly declares his or her resignation from the Party;”

Ms de Lille was invited to explain why she had not, as a matter of fact, ceased to be a member by virtue of this section when she admitted that she intended to resign. She attempted to argue that this referred to resigning as Mayor. The FLC found that the context showed very clearly that she intended to resign from the DA.

Accordingly, the Federal Executive resolved last night to endorse the finding of the FLC that her membership had ceased as of 26 April, the date of the 702 interview. We have informed Ms De Lille and City Manager of this fact.

The fact that she has ceased to be a member renders the other processes (the disciplinary and the operation of the accountability clause) moot. The Federal Executive did, however, support the motion passed by the caucus, and will apply the accountability clause should the need arise. The Federal Executive has therefore not at this point made any decision on the accountability aspect.

We wish Ms de Lille well in her future endeavours and thank her for the service she has given the Party.

This has been a confusing time for the citizens of Cape Town, for which the DA sincerely apologises.

Our priority is to restore stability and coherence to the City government so that we can continue to provide excellent and responsive services to the people of the City.

We recognise that we will need to rebuild trust with the voters and will do our utmost best to ensure that we get back to the business of governing Cape Town.