De Lille continues fight for secret ballot

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s bid to get city councillors to vote with a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence against her will continue in the Western Cape high court today, where Judge Robert Henney has said he is still not convinced that the court holds the power to instruct political parties how to vote.

De Lille’s legal counsel, advocate Dali Mpofu, yesterday argued that the vote would not be free and councillors could not decide based on their own conscience if it is not held in secret.

The Democratic Alliance, whose city caucus tabled the motion against De Lille, is opposing the mayor’s application, saying that it does not mind a secret vote but believes that some councillors would like to show the public they have lost confidence in the mayor.

DA advocate Ismael Jamie yesterday told the court that De Lille was tying to win a political battle using South Africa’s legal framework.

“This case has everything to do with political survival. It has nothing to do with the law or with constitutionalism. The fear is that if the vote is not secret, it will succeed. That political wish does not translate into a legal case,” Jamie told the court.

“If you instruct the DA members to vote in secret ballot, there may be members who say no, they will not do that. They want members of the public to know they voted in favour of the motion openly,” the advocate continued.

But Mpofu told the court that their own estimations have shown that De Lille might survive the vote if it is conducted by secret ballot, because she previously secured the support of 59 caucus members who did not want the motion to be tabled.

Sean Rosenberg, advocate for the city and the speaker of the council, is expected to clarify the city’s position today, after yesterday saying they don’t hold a view either way.

Court is expected to resume on Wednesday at 11am.

Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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