THE BLOG
08/05/2018 11:04 SAST | Updated 08/05/2018 15:55 SAST

DA – De Lille War Obscuring Serious Allegations Against Her

De Lille's politics have basically drowned out the key ethical concern, which is whether or not she conducted herself properly as mayor.

De Lille's membership termination and removal as mayor of the city of Cape Town is unlikely to have an impact nationally, but it might well have an impact in Western Cape. It's difficult to know without reliable polling whether that will impact on the DA's ability to get 50 percent in Western Cape, but it is going to make it very difficult for the party to get 60 percent.

This entire debacle has been escalated into a war. Both sides got deep into their trenches and were not getting out until they won. The DA saw an opportunity — De Lille misspoke, presumably on a radio interview and gave them the opening they need, and they took it.

That's what happens in a war — but it shouldn't detract from the serious allegations against De Lille that still need to be investigated and the truth of which needs to come to light.

I would imagine that the party disciplinary processes — which are already underway and have been delayed by numerous problems — will fall away now that she is no longer a member.

But I think the city investigation into her conduct as mayor — which is actually the more serious of the two, because it involves allegations of maleficence and poor financial control over tenders — is the critical one. I imagine that the city of Cape Town will keep that investigation open until they've arrived at a conclusion.

It is is very difficult for the public to tell fact from fiction; the politics involved have made it very messy in the public mind. The key problem is the allegations before the city, and people must not lose sight of that. If she did act inappropriately as mayor, then the party was right to act against her.

It might have become confused and turned it into a political war, but you can't have a mayor who has abused public money. An investigation needs to be done. Facts need to be established.

The DA is having a very fraught internal debate about what it calls diversity and how to make that real, but I don't think the appointment of Ian Neilson as a sort of caretaker mayor is a symptom of that. I think it's a natural thing for an organisation to do — when you get rid of a leader, the deputy takes over. The party has made it clear that this is just going to be an interim appointment until it elects a new mayor.

De Lille's politics have basically drowned out the key ethical concern, which is whether or not she conducted herself properly as mayor. The public must not lose sight of that question, because the legitimacy of this whole thing hinges on the findings of the city in that regard.

This is a transcribed interview with Gareth van Onselen.