The DA has admitted that its battle with Patricia de Lille has caused immense reputational damage, expected to result in lower voter confidence — especially in Cape Town, where De Lille was the face of the party during her tenure as mayor.
But the party already has a plan to mitigate voter losses in the city, after it axed De Lille as mayor and further stripped her of her party membership.
Speaking to HuffPost, DA deputy federal executive chairperson Natasha Mazzone said the party will do "everything [it] can" to restore the trust of its Cape Town electorate.
"This issue has caused our party immense reputational damage, and we are the first ones to admit that. We are so absolutely entrenched in our belief that we must be held accountable and hold those who represent our voters to account, that we would rather go through the reputational damage than ever not be seen to be the party of accountability," Mazzone said.
"We are now going to do everything we can to restore the trust of the voters in Cape Town. We are going to make public every possible document that we are legally allowed to, so that people know exactly what was going on. We are going to rebuild the trust in the city of Cape Town by ensuring that the city council runs at optimum levels and our service delivery remains the best in the country."
#DA confirms that deputy mayor Ian Nielson will take over immediately as acting mayor. The City of Cape Town council will elect a new mayor "as soon as possible," the party says. Council must elect a new mayor within 14 days. #DeLille (@PaulHermanCPT)— Team News24 (@TeamNews24) May 8, 2018
Mazzone also dismissed speculation that De Lille's dismissal stems from party infighting.
"There is absolutely no deeper political divide in this party at all. We are completely open and very honest. There is nothing that the DA is hiding. This is simply just a case of accountability. De Lille tries to say the accountability clause was introduced for her," Mazzone said.
"In actual fact, it has already been used four times in various municipalities. It certainly in no way can be attributed to her. We are the first political party to take such steps — that we have the ability to hold our executive to account to an actual clause in our constitution."
She said the party has made it clear that its decision is not based on race.
BREAKING: #DeLille says the party has forced her to go to the courts, which she will do on Friday at 10:00. Her lawyers will argue that the #DA's "cessation clause" is unconstitutional and unfairly applied to her. (@PaulHermanCPT)— Team News24 (@TeamNews24) May 8, 2018
"The De Lille saga has been ongoing for some time, and it started long before any of these perceived racial tensions in the DA," Mazzone claimed. "We made it very clear that De Lille had her membership seized today because she announced that she had the intention to resign, and so she is the one who breached the DA's constitution."
"What we are hoping for is that people see that we are a party for accountability and that's what we stand for. We stand for clean and open governance. This is absolutely nothing to do with race, and everything to do with holding our executive members to account."
Will the DA's decision to axe Patricia de Lille as a member of the party hurt its performance in the 2019 elections?— HuffPost SouthAfrica (@HuffPostSA) May 8, 2018