22/06/2018 07:26 SAST | Updated 22/06/2018 07:26 SAST

'Learn To Read Better' - De Lille, Steenhuisen In Twitter Spat

On Thursday, De Lille posted an "open letter" to Steenhuisen following an article published in the Cape Times on Wednesday entitled, "Steenhuisen admits De Lille blunders".

Henry Romero / Reuters

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and DA chief whip John Steenhuisen have found themselves exchanging words over Twitter, following comments Steenhuisen allegedly made in the Cape Times.

On Thursday, De Lille posted an "open letter" to Steenhuisen following an article published in the Cape Times on Wednesday entitled, "Steenhuisen admits De Lille blunders".

The chief whip was campaigning in Durban when he said the party had learnt lessons and made mistakes in dealing with the unprecedented fallout with their once-favoured mayor.

"With reference to your comments quoted in the Cape Times story... I respectfully request that you provide me with hard evidence of the following which you have accused me of:

"Protecting maladministration; misconduct; dereliction of duty; lying to council; hurting the DA brand and ruining relations in the DA team."

De Lille said it was well known that she had asked the party "repeatedly" for evidence related to the allegations against her.

She has requested they be submitted to both the Western Cape High Court in her application for the review of the report Steenhuisen compiled against her on behalf of the party and tabled before her disciplinary hearing.

"Sadly, however, the party has refused to provide the evidence to me and my lawyers so that we can deal with it publicly and in the disciplinary proceedings."

Next Thursday, she would ask the Western Cape High Court to compel the party to do so, she said.

"For reasons which I cannot fathom, the party is again spending thousands and thousands of rands in opposing my court application, and it is likely to contend yet again that the party's affairs are private and confidential and nobody else's business.

"This stance obviously contradicts the professed intention to hold me and others accountable."

She finished by signing the open letter "Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town".

Steenhuisen however responded on Twitter. He lambasted De Lille, pointing out that he did not repeat any of the charges against her in the article cited.

Rather, the article merely repeated what the party, and not he, had accused her of previously.

"You must learn to read a little better as to what is in quotation marks and what is not (much like your arms deal 'dossier', your charge is all hat, no cattle!)" he said, referring to De Lille's famous dossier exposing corruption in the arms deal, and criticism that it was "illegible".

"But while we at it, can you answer this: Did you or did you not send the SMS to Cllr Limberg? (simple yes or no will do)," he chirped, referring to another accusation against De Lille.

De Lille was accused by mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg of sending an "inappropriate" SMS, allegedly asking Limberg to give Achmat Ebrahim a high score in his then-interview for City manager in 2016.

De Lille has also asked to answer to this in an open disciplinary hearing, saying she had never seen the SMS until recently.

Steenhuisen dismissed De Lille's request for evidence as "fake news", repeating that he was not quoted saying "anything of the sort".

He then mocked her for sending an open letter to him when she had, in fact, blocked him from Twitter, posting a screengrab.

He finished by defending his party to another user, who had accused the DA of becoming untrustworthy.

"'Untrustworthy' is sweeping allegations and problems under the carpet hoping they will go away. Confronting them and holding your own accountable in the same way you hold others is called consistency."

Court judgment next week

De Lille and her party will be in court next week to finally hear judgment in her case for the review of the party's determination to strip her of her membership, and thus her mayorship.

She was temporarily reinstated by the court last month, pending the full review of her case.

A victory for De Lille will see her return to her position in council permanently, albeit with significantly curtailed powers, after the council voted to strip her of all but two of her duties in May.

If De Lille returns, the DA will likely have to reopen the stalled disciplinary proceedings against her.

If De Lille is unsuccessful, she has indicated she will take the matter to the country's highest courts.

The court could also opt to rule on the procedural elements of the case only, and then order the parties to come to a mutual agreement, leaving the courts out of political decisions.

A full Bench of the High Court took exception to being asked to intervene in political matters where procedures were allegedly not followed."Must I do the job of the DA's federal executive or federal legal commission?" Judge Andre Le Grange asked at the hearing.