The DA's "shortcut" to axe Patricia de Lille as mayor of Cape Town may have a detrimental effect on the party's electorate in the city, especially among coloured constituencies, come 2019.
This is according to political analysts, who said the DA's handling of the De Lille matter will come under scrutiny and lay bare the manner in which the party deals with its internal issues.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, members of the party's federal executive, including Natasha Mazzone and James Selfe, announced that in addition to various investigations undertaken by the DA, its decision to fire the mayor stems from extracts from a radio interview in April in which De Lille indicated that she intended to resign from the party as soon as she had cleared her name.
Selfe made reference to the party's constitution, which states that "a member ceases to be a member when he or she publicly declares his or her intention to resign".
#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
Politics expert at the University of South Africa Dirk Kotze said the decision to terminate De Lille's membership based on a radio interview was a "shortcut".
"Selfe conceded that this will not be the end of the process. It is clear the party knows this decision will be challenged in the courts. It seems there is much more to this situation than the base allegations set against De Lille. It shows deeper political issues were involved," he said.
"De Lille would have been a strong candidate to replace Zille as premier, and it seems the party was keen to have her removed before the process of nominations began. This will be detrimental for the DA in Cape Town. The party does not want to be seen as a continuation of its old administration, but this move undermines its progress in that regard."
First the DA concoct an 'internal' secret report. Then they lay a 'charge' from a mysterious businessman from way back. Then they lose a vote of no confidence. Then they create a 'recall clause'. Now they fake AG reports. These guys can never be taken seriously again. #DeLille— Simon Grindrod (@SimonPGrindrod) May 7, 2018
Kotze said De Lille's axing will have a negative affect on the public perception of the DA in Cape Town.
"This will be especially true for the coloured community, who make up a majority in the city and mostly rally behind De Lille. Although it is unlikely DA voters will move to another party at the ballots, many may choose not to vote at all."
Political analyst Keith Gottschalk believes the DA would have wanted to resolve the De Lille matter before election campaigns in the province kicked off.
"It is also clear that as the DA grows larger, its factions get more and more competitive. They need to be shown to be transformative at all levels of leadership. Some will come and some will go, causing internal ruptures in the party over ideology."