POLITICS
06/06/2018 07:00 SAST | Updated 06/06/2018 08:01 SAST

De Lille Vs DA: Status Quo Remains As Judgment Reserved Until End Of June

The status quo will continue in the City of Cape Town for a few more weeks after the Western Cape High Court reserved judgment in the matter between Mayor Patricia De Lille and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille attends the C40 Cities Women4Climate event in New York City, U.S. March 15, 2017. Photo taken March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Brendan McDermid / Reuters
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille attends the C40 Cities Women4Climate event in New York City, U.S. March 15, 2017. Photo taken March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The status quo will continue in the City of Cape Town for a few more weeks after the Western Cape High Court reserved judgment in the matter between Mayor Patricia De Lille and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

De Lille and the DA took their fractious relationship to the High Court on Monday and Tuesday to argue the merits of the party's "determination" that her membership ceased, following comments she had made on radio.

De Lille allegedly breached one of the clauses of the party's constitution during a Radio702 interview where she apparently announced a public intention to resign, the party argued.

Following two full days of arguments, Judge André le Grange announced that the court would reserve judgment in the matter, given the court's workload, and would likely deliver it before the end of June.

City matters will continue as is after the court ruled in favour of De Lille's application for urgent relief three weeks ago. De Lille was temporarily reinstated pending the full review of her ousting from the party.

The Cape Town City council stripped De Lille of her executive powers last Thursday, leaving her with only ceremonial duties.

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Her mayoral committee will make all the key decisions in the City by consensus.

De Lille 'happy' with Mpofu, De Waal

Outside court, De Lille, who is still Cape Town mayor at least by title, told journalists that she was happy her case was finally answered in court.

"I'm just happy that all the issues have been ventilated in front of three judges, a full Bench.

"Once again, I recognise my right as a citizen of this country to have access to any court when I seek fairness and justice."

For now, she will await the outcome of the judgment. She was happy with the performance of her two lawyers, senior counsel Dali Mpofu and Johan de Waal.

"I respect the independence of the judiciary. It's now up to the judges to consider the evidence before them and make a judgment," she continued.

"I'm happy with my whole legal team. They work very long hours and I know they put a lot of time in. Advocate senior counsel Johan de Waal, Dali Mpofu and John Riley, I say thank you to them and thank you to the judges."

DA deputy federal council chairperson Natasha Mazzone said the party did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the court, and also thanked the judges.

"I don't think it's fair on any of the parties to pre-determine what they're thinking, so it does depend on what the judges find. We live in a constitutional democracy where we adhere to the rule of law."

Mazzone said, at least from the party's side, the running of the City of Cape Town would continue as is, and its mayoral committee was still operating in its various portfolios.

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'You want us to pull the trigger?'

The judges took a dim view on Tuesday to being asked to intervene in a political matter between a member and her party.

This after Sean Rosenberg, SC for the DA insisted that the court can make a finding on whether De Lille actually stated an intention to resign in the radio interview in question.

In the session after lunch, Judge Andre Le Grange remarked that, as the DA could not presumably follow through with De Lille's removal unequivocally, did it now want the court "to pull the trigger on De Lille?"

Judge Mark Sher asked why the court should make an order beyond simply judging the procedural aspects of the case, while Judge Pearl Mantame asked why the DA did not want to finish the disciplinary proceedings against De Lille given the raft of "serious" allegations against her.

The charges could potentially "hang" over the city, Le Grange added.

Before the lunch break on Tuesday, Rosenberg argued that De Lille showed a clear intention to resign from the party during the infamous radio interview in late April.

It was also clear from the interview that the relationship between De Lille and the party had "irretrievably broken down" and that her exit was not a matter of if, but when.

The words used, therefore, fell within the ambit of the DA's "cessation clause" and De Lille set the wheels in motion in her own exit from the party.

However, on Monday, Dali Mpofu SC for De Lille, argued that the DA's use of the cessation clause was unconstitutional, unfair and in bad faith.

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The DA was "trying to have it both ways" when it came to removing her, he argued.

Her second advocate, Johan de Waal, SC, criticised the DA's decision, which had such large-scale implications for both De Lille and the City of Cape Town, over comments made on a radio station that were clearly "conditional".

De Waal labelled the decision "totally disproportionate" and a "total overreaction".

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