Madikizela: ‘De Lille’s own caucus has lost faith in her’
Western Cape Democratic Alliance leader Bonginkosi Madikizela says the party’s federal executive made an about-turn on Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s future because it could no longer impose her on caucus members who wanted her out.
This week, the federal executive allowed the DA caucus in the City of Cape Town to table a motion of no confidence against De Lille.
With De Lille currently being investigated on charges of misconduct, the federal executive had agreed last month to have her remain as mayor pending the outcome of a probe by the party’s federal legal commission.
But Madikizela, a federal executive member, said recent developments such as the auditor general’s downgrade of the City of Cape Town’s audits had prompted the party to revisit its decision. “After one of the councillors raised that motion, it was taken to a caucus meeting where there was a lengthy debate and, ultimately, the caucus members agreed to put it to a vote. Out of 144 members who participated, 84 voted in favour of that motion,” Madikizela said.
“All those things resulted in us as the federal executive saying we cannot impose a caucus leader who has lost the confidence of her caucus.”
De Lille has hit back against the DA caucus, claiming there is clear desperation to get her out of office through what she says is a political plot. Madikizela has been accused of being a central player in that plot, with allegations that he is pushing for De Lille’s removal so that he can take over as mayor.
But in an interview with the Mail & Guardian this week, Madikizela denied these claims: “If 84 members of your own caucus are saying they have lost confidence in you, how can that be interpreted as a conspiracy? At the very least, when you are facing criticism, the only people who must at least protect you are the members of your own caucus. So, if you have lost the confidence of the members of your own caucus, I find it troubling that you would blame other people and say it’s a conspiracy.”
He said if De Lille vacates her position, deputy mayor Ian Neilson would fill the post on an acting basis.
On Wednesday, De Lille issued a statement accusing Madikizela of being hellbent on publicly criticising her and going against DA values.
“It is clear that the provincial leader would much rather engage in campaigns to unseat me from a democratically elected position than to allow the party’s process to be followed,” she said in the statement.
Although there had been some stability around De Lille since she was formally charged on January 14, the report by the auditor general appears to have caused the discontent to flare up again. It cited governance failures and financial irregularities in the city’s Transport and Urban Development Authority, for which De Lille is being probed.
The auditor general’s report allegedly also mentioned irregular spending on upgrades to the mayor’s home, after supposedly previously finding no wrongdoing on De Lille’s part for the R140 000 upgrades.
But the Western Cape DA now says claims that the upgrades were above board were a misrepresentation of the auditor general’s findings.
According to Madikizela, the caucus was also unhappy that De Lille continued to push for a drought levy to deal with the city’s water crisis, despite a caucus decision that the measure should be scrapped.
“What angered the members of the caucus, which triggered this motion, is the fact that the mayor spoke against the caucus position at the council meeting [where the levy was scrapped],” Madikzela said.
“The caucus has now lost confidence in her because she appears to be in defiance mode.”
De Lille has hit back, saying Madikizela’s human settlements department had also been implicated in irregular expenditure.
“The auditor general found repeating issues with supply chain management within his department. The auditor general also recorded R520 000 in irregular expenditure,” De Lille said. “It is therefore shocking that he would use the auditor general’s latest audit report into the City of Cape Town to attack me.”
There are concerns that the De Lille saga could hurt the DA’s hopes for 2019. Party insiders have told the M&G that the matter has already caused the DA reputational harm. Madikizela said although he was also concerned about this, the party could not afford to turn a blind eye to alleged wrongdoing.