The Democratic Alliance's Federal Executive (FedEx) resolved to suspend deliberations on the future of City of Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille, citing getting legal papers from the mayor. However, De Lille denied that she formally served any court papers to the party.
This decision was taken at a meeting on Saturday, said deputy chairperson of the DA's federal council Natasha Mazzone.
She said in a statement the decision followed lengthy discussions considering all elements of the matter.
"However, during the course of these deliberations we received legal papers from Ms De Lille advising that she intends approaching the courts. As a result, we have suspended discussions pending legal advice."
'Seriousness and thoroughness'
Mazzone said at all times the FedEx approached the issue with De Lille with the "highest level of seriousness and thoroughness" given the importance of the matter.
She told News24 the court papers from De Lille come through an email during the FedEx's deliberation.
"That then resulted in FedEx having to suspend the deliberation because our lawyers had to now give legal advice on the papers that she filed."
Mazzone said the court action was related to the motion of no confidence.
"That's the only thing that FedEx is discussing. FedEx is deliberating on the motion of no confidence and her submissions regarding it," she said.
When asked for the copies of the court papers, Mazzone said the DA would not release the papers, "but De Lille was welcome to release them".
Bringing the DA into disrepute
"They had advanced various reasons for why over 70% of the caucus have lost confidence in Ms De Lille as mayor. These reasons included the fact that she had repeatedly breached the Code of Conduct for Councillors as well as the Constitution of the DA, had brought the DA into disrepute, and breached the conditions of her suspension," she said in the statement.
Mazzone said De Lille's conduct in the public domain had amounted to frequent criticisms of the DA and the DA's management of her case, "to the extent that it appears she does not consider herself part of the DA any longer - or at least considers herself more important than it and above the rules of the party".
"Her recent comment that she is 'no longer cooperating with the DA' means she cannot effectively govern on a DA mandate."
Mazzone said the Fedex will resume discussions early next week once the legal advice was at hand.
'No legal papers'
De Lille, in a statement responding to the DA's statement, denied that she served the party with legal papers.
"I wish to make it clear that I have not formally served any court papers on the party with regards to the recall clause.
"My legal team, as a matter of courtesy, sent the party's attorneys a copy of my draft papers which we would only have formally issued and served had the recall clause been invoked," she explained.
"The courtesy was extended to the party's legal team since the clause, if invoked, would have required me to resign within 48 hours."
De Lille said she remained concerned by the statements made by Mazzone, in particular that the caucus relied on her allegedly breaching the code of conduct for councillors and the party's constitution, bringing the party into disrepute and breaching her suspension conditions as the basis for the vote of no confidence.
She said she has not been found guilty, following any due process, of any of these allegations.
"I am disputing all of those allegations and I want the public, who elected me, to hear the evidence against me," De Lille said.
She said she regarded the "De Lille Recall Clause", recently adopted as part of the DA Federal Constitution, "as draconian and unconstitutional".
"I am prepared to test that in the high courts if necessary," De Lille added.