In hard-hitting court papers‚ Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has accused the Democratic Alliance of lying to South Africa and to the High Court as part of the party’s desperate bid to get rid of her.
She also accused the party of “disrespecting” and “abusing” court process.
In a affidavit filed on Monday she has also asked that the DA be ordered to pay a punishing legal costs order if and when she won her latest court battle against it‚ so as to “send a strong message” to “other political parties…not to abuse the law and the courts to fight their political battles”.
De Lille has taken aim at the party’s leadership‚ branding Federal Chair James Selfe as dishonest in his claims of how the decision to terminate her DA membership was made – and claiming that the entire process to remove her was “rubber stamped” without any real debate.
Effectively‚ she says in the affidavit‚ the DA is trying to use an “unlawful shortcut” – by summarily terminating her membership – to force her out of the party‚ rather than subjecting her to the disciplinary inquiry she’s entitled to.
According to De Lille‚ a recent City Press column by deputy chair of the DA’s Federal Council Natasha Mazzone made it clear that the party’s “real issue” with her was a disciplinary one. However‚ she points out‚ Mazzone had stated in a radio interview that the disciplinary charges against her had lapsed when the DA terminated her membership following her radio interview with 702’s Eusebius McKaiser.
Just over a week ago‚ the Western Cape High Court ruled that De Lille should retain her DA membership pending the conclusion of her review application to challenge the party’s “automatic cessation clause”. The party used this clause to terminate De Lille’s membership‚ on the basis that she had stated in a radio interview that she would resign from the party – once she had cleared her name.
According to De Lille‚ this statement did not amount to a resignation from the party and denies that her relationship with the DA has “irretrievably broken down”. She’s also questioned why the membership of DA Shadow Minister of Communications Phumzile van Damme was not terminated – after she stated that she would resign from the party if it did not engage white privilege and black poverty. The DA maintains Van Damme’s statement “may or may not legitimately fall” within the ambit of its “automatic cessation clause”.
In papers previously filed at the High Court‚ Selfe said it was “manifestly urgent” that a DA official occupying public office – who indicated that they wanted to resign – be removed as soon as possible. He stated that “if a person has declared their intention to resign‚ it is vital that the person’s membership is ended as soon as possible”‚ adding that such a person is “extremely dangerous to the Party’s interest‚ particularly if they occupy public office”.
These statements make it clear‚ De Lille argues‚ that the DA should have acted “urgently” against Van Damme – but didn’t do so because “the party doesn’t want to get rid of Van Damme‚ but they want to get rid of me”.
De Lille says the DA has made multiple contradictory and confusing statements over the termination of her membership‚ and argues that its fight to justify the use of its “automatic cessation clause” is legally unsustainable.
“That being so‚ there can be no logical explanation for the DA to continue to oppose this application‚” she says.
In her scathing affidavit‚ De Lille says the DA and some of the party’s local and federal leadership have shown bad faith‚ in “an inadvisable attempt to get rid of me by using underhand and deceptive means‚ including attempts to mislead the public and this Honourable Court”.
She says the DA has tried to present its decision to terminate her membership of the party as innocent‚ and not the result of “the relentless vendetta and determination to get rid of me” – a stance that she says “insults the intelligence” of the court.
According to De Lille‚ the DA had shown “disrespect” towards the judges who ruled that her membership should not be terminated until her challenge to the “automatic cessation” clause had been decided.
Judge Patrick Gamble‚ who heard De Lille’s case with Judge Monde Samela‚ stated in that ruling: “We are genuinely concerned for the harm her loss of office has for the people of Cape Town. The city has lost the services of its first citizen and members of the mayoral committee.”
De Lille argues that the DA’s reported comments following that ruling – including deputy mayor Ian Neilsen referring to her as “lame duck” mayor and a DA statement that maintained the ruling was “not in the best interests of Cape Town” – demonstrated clear disrespect towards the court. She also criticised the party for releasing a series of statements and pamphlets that‚ she says‚ are misleading and distorted what the court had ruled through “spin doctoring”.
De Lille’s application will be heard on Friday