Patricia de Lille was set to be ousted as mayor of Cape Town on Wednesday.
The DA provincial leader‚ Bonginkosi Madikizela‚ said the party federal executive had given councillors permission to support an ANC motion of no confidence in De Lille.
Last week‚ the caucus voted by 84 to 59 in favour of a motion that the 66-year-old should be relieved of her mayoral chain. But it was not clear whether the councillors would be permitted to support a motion brought by the opposition party in the council.
That obstacle was removed on Wednesday by Madikizela’s disclosure that the federal executive — the party’s main decision-making body when the federal council and federal congress are not in session — had given the go-ahead.
Madikizela said: “While this is an unprecedented move‚ the ANC correctly in its motion details many‚ but not all‚ of the maladministration that the mayor is responsible for.
“The federal executive has taken this step on the basis that the caucus‚ and the party too‚ has lost faith in her leadership. It is therefore in the best interests of the people of Cape Town and good governance – given the threat that Patricia de Lille poses to both – that we have no choice but to remove her as the mayor.
“This is a demonstration of the fact that we are able to rise above narrow party-political interests and to serve the democratic project in South Africa.
“We have previously appealed to the ANC to support motions of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma due to the very obvious damage he has done to South Africa and his leading role in state capture and corruption.
“It is for similar reasons that the federal executive has authorised the caucus to vote for a motion to remove Patricia de Lille. We reached this point due to the untenable and destructive role played by the mayor.”
In a statement‚ Madikizela said there were several reasons for the party’s decision to dump De Lille — his predecessor as provincial leader until she stepped down a year ago to focus on the mayoralty.
“For the first time in Cape Town’s history‚ a council-mandated independent investigation took the view that the sitting mayor had demonstrated behaviour and actions which constituted gross misconduct‚ gross dereliction of duty‚ and conduct that amounted to deceiving council‚” he said.
“This was on the basis of extensive prima facie evidence before the council which included the mayor’s own representations.”
Madikizela said the evidence was supported by the auditor-general’s decision to downgrade the city’s audit status from clean‚ to unqualified with conditions.
“This is untenable for a DA government to see a deterioration in its audit status‚ especially when such a regression is the direct result of the conduct of the mayor herself. This is wholly unacceptable and is not in line with the DA’s commitment to clean‚ open and accountable governance‚” he said.
The auditor-general had pointed the finger of blame directly at De Lille‚ said Madikizela. “In this regard it is important to note … that the vast majority of financial findings relate to the Transport and Urban Development Authority‚ which the mayor has routinely and very publicly defended.”
The financial watchdog had also found “regression within the control environment as a result of poor leadership”.
Madikizela was particularly scathing of De Lille’s claims that the auditor-general had vindicated her of wrongdoing over security upgrades to her Pinelands home funded by the council. This was “blatantly false”.
“It is simply intolerable for a sitting mayor to mislead her party and more importantly the people of Cape Town in such a deliberate and inexcusable fashion‚” he said.
He also criticised De Lille for her management of the drought. “Her failure to manage this correctly and to communicate accurate information has played a material role in the current public panic and negatively impeded the city’s response to the current crisis‚” he said.
“She actively withheld information‚ misdirected officials‚ delayed budget decisions‚ interfered with project plans and undermined the rollout of augmentation projects as a result.
“Furthermore‚ she failed to push national government to fulfil its legal responsibilities – at the cost and risk to the residents of Cape Town. This is in of itself has posed a massive governance risk.”
Madikizela said De Lille‚ had played an important role in South Africa’s democratic history. “It is truly saddening that her conduct has forced us to act to remove her.
“However‚ no matter someone’s history or popularity‚ we have a greater obligation to protecting the principles of good governance and ensuring effective delivery to all‚ especially the people of Cape Town.”