The fine print on De Lille’s sacking

On Tuesday the Democratic Alliance (DA) rescinded Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s party membership.

According to the party, the termination of her membership is based on the allegation that De Lille contravened section 3.5.2 of the federal constitution of the DA.

In correspondence dated May 3, the DA’s Werner Horn informed De Lille that an allegation had been made against her that she had effectively given up her membership when she publicly pronounced her “intention to resign” from the party.

The basis of this “intention to resign” stems from an interview De Lille gave on Radio 702 with Eusebius McKaiser.

McKaiser asked the mayor: “If I hear you, you are saying, ideally I want to clear my name, Eusebius, that’s why I am going to court and if I win this battle, and when I win it because I know I’ve done nothing wrong, then the morning after I have won the court case then I will resign from the DA.”

In response, De Lille said, “I will walk away. You summed it up correctly.”

She continued, saying, “Because really it is not about hanging on to. I’m serving there at the behest of the DA. The DA has gone through a process and Electoral College; they have put me into that position. I’m not representing my jacket I’m representing the DA and if the DA feels it wants to put someone else in that position they are also entitled to do that.”

Horn’s letter to De Lille had given her 24 hours to contest the assertion she had given up her membership.

In the letter Horn says, “Please take note that in the event of cessation of membership you are not only no longer a member of the Party, but you also simultaneously lose your status as a public representative of the Party as determined by section 3.5.2 of the Federal Constitution.”

READ MORE: DA terminates De Lille membership

In a letter dated May 4, De Lille responded, arguing that clause was being applied incorrectly regarding her interview.

“Clause of the Party’s Federal Constitution provides that a member ceases to be a member of the Party when she inter alia publicly declares her intention to resign. This is an anti-floor crossing provision in the sense that those who make public that they intend to resign from the Party disqualify themselves from crossing the floor,” De Lille’s submission reads.

“Firstly, assessed in context, I am talking about resigning as Executive Mayor of Cape Town and not a member of the Party. Let us not fool ourselves. The dispute between me and the Party is about the position of Mayor in Cape Town and not about my membership of the Party. The Party would not have offered me a position in Parliament if it wanted to get rid of me as a member.”

Quoting a transcript of the interview, De Lille said: “Secondly, the meaning of my statement is very clear: I will not resign until I have proven through the Party’s disciplinary processes and, if necessary, by court proceedings that I have done nothing wrong. Only once I have cleared my name can I resign. Clause cannot possibly apply to such a conditional statement.”

De Lille wrote that should the federal executive determine she has in fact ceased to be a member, she would approach the Western Cape Division of the High Court on an urgent basis to seek interim relief.

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Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.

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