City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille says she is resolute, determined and hell-bent on clearing her name ahead of her fight-back against charges levelled against her by the Democratic Alliance.
Disciplinary proceedings are expected to commence on Tuesday after she was charged with contravening the federal constitution of the party amid claims of misconduct.
“This is about my values, my reputation and integrity. I have worked very hard in this country and have been in politics for more than 45 years. To become a household name has meant I had to prove myself so people know what kind of person I am,” she told News24 ahead of one of the biggest battles of her political career.
“I am not going to allow anyone, no matter who they are, to now try and take that away from me after I worked so long. I am hell-bent on clearing my name and I will stop at nothing – I will go through battering and bashing and unfairness and lies, but in the end I will emerge victorious because I stand my ground on the basis of principle.”
In September, it emerged that a subcommittee, headed by parliamentary whip John Steenhuisen, had been established by the DA’s federal executive to look into tensions and political management in the City of Cape Town.
For months, De Lille has been the focus of several serious allegations and claims, many of which have been made by her colleagues.
She nevertheless survived a motion of no confidence against her last month, largely as a result of the support of the African National Congress and smaller opposition parties.
‘Duty to clear my name’
A total of 110 councillors voted “no”, 109 voted “yes”, and three chose to abstain.
Three quarters of the DA’s caucus voted in favour of the motion.
Despite this, De Lille said she never considered throwing in the towel.
“If I resign I will be pleading guilty. I have a duty to clear my name. I have suffered a lot of reputational damage, that is why I am so adamant that this hearing must be open so that I can start to restore my reputation,” she insisted.
“As mayor, I have continued to focus on what we all have been elected to do as public servants – to serve the people of the City of Cape Town and not our own selfish interests. That has kept me busy and focused. To me it was business as usual. I cannot be side-tracked from the task and the mandate that I have been given by the people of the city.”
De Lille said she never lost any sleep about the disciplinary hearing, pointing out that she had asked to be charged so that she could defend herself during formal procedures.
‘DA has no respect for human rights’
“What I have been concerned about was all these untested allegations out there to try and taint my reputation as a corruption fighter,” she said.
The vote of no confidence brought against her by her own party was a way to short circuit disciplinary procedures, De Lille maintained.
“They have always denied me a fair process up until now. I know my rights. I fought for [them] and that’s why I know what they are in terms of the DA and the country’s Constitution.
“They want the [four-day disciplinary process] to proceed on Human Rights Day, March 21. Those are the rights that I fought for and they want me to come to a hearing. I am not available; I have other engagements. It just shows you the level of how they [trample] on people’s rights – they think nothing of human rights like they profess publicly.”
Media24, which owns News24 and Netwerk24, will place before the disciplinary committee an application allowing media access to the hearing.
De Lille said she fully supported this, and would also put a request to the panel on Tuesday that its chairperson allow the hearing to be open.
“I am the number one citizen in the city. I think Capetonians are entitled to hear for themselves – they have heard the side of the DA and my political opponents for the past six months. I am the accused. I am asking for it to be open. If the DA has a watertight case, why would they be bothered?”
She hasn’t considered her future should be she removed as mayor, a position she has held for seven years.
“I haven’t even thought about it – I am resolute, determined and hell-bent that I clear my name. There are some things money can’t buy, like integrity and your reputation. That is all I am focusing on now.
“A lot of bad things have been said about me by nameless and faceless people. I can’t let this go. People don’t understand the importance of your integrity, the trust, your reputation in life. To me, those things are very important. It speaks to the values of a person.”
She admitted it was difficult to be “doubted and attacked by a small cabal who are hell-bent on getting me”.
“Politics is about power struggle because there are other people who want to get into this position. But the more they scream and shout and make these untested claims and allegations against me, the more determined I become to clear my name.”