04/10/2017 07:06 SAST | Updated 04/10/2017 07:06 SAST

De Lille, Smith Tensions Spill Over To Party's Elective Congress

The tension between Patricia de Lille and JP Smith could have wider implications for the DA.

Henry Romero / Reuters
Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille speaks to the media during a news conference at the C40 Mayors Summit at a hotel in Mexico City, Mexico December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Tensions in the DA following the decision by DA leader Mmusi Maimane to put Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and Cape Town city council member JP Smith on special leave are set to boil over into the party's provincial elective conference on Saturday, The Times reported on Wednesday.

According to News24, action was taken against the two after a public spat over claims that De Lille had decided to shut down the city's special investigations unit, which was headed by Smith. It also alleged that security upgrades to De Lille's home were made using public funds.

Smith made the claims, while De Lille accused him of dragging her name through the mud. The two are still allowed to continue with their city council duties, however.

Daily Maverick reported that De Lille said: "Regarding renovations at my house, these were paid for by myself and I am prepared to make the proof of these payments made by myself known as part of the proper legal processes."

Smith retaliated that he had raised the issue as pure speculation, and that he would have laid charges against De Lille if he had had proof. He said he was sorry that he had included the claims about De Lille's house in his report as this had now become a distraction.

According to The Times, hearings into the spat began on Tuesday and are expected to last several days. If the two are unable to attend the congress on Saturday, this could reportedly have repercussions for those contenders backed by Smith.

Smith is reportedly also running for deputy chairman of the party in the Western Cape.

Complicating matters is a letter, reportedly sent by Smith to Maimane and DA federal chairman James Selfe, about his unhappiness regarding the closure of the unit. The letter was reportedly leaked to the media and De Lille's supporters see this as an attempt to undermine her through gossip.

De Lille's supporters told The Times that she had done nothing wrong and would see a lawyer.

Smith's supporters called De Lille a "cowboy" and said Smith was being targeted as he was one of the few council members who was willing to stand up to her.