Court rules De Lille should return to office in interim

De Lille reacted to the judgment on Tuesday by thanking her supporters and vowing to not let them down while she remained in office. (Brenton Geach/Gallo Images)

De Lille reacted to the judgment on Tuesday by thanking her supporters and vowing to not let them down while she remained in office. (Brenton Geach/Gallo Images)

The Western Cape High Court has ruled that Patricia De Lille’s membership in the Democratic Alliance (DA) must be reinstated and she must return to her office as mayor pending the court hearing of her challenge against the DA’s cessation of membership clause on May 25.

Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela delivered their judgment on Tuesday after De Lille launched an urgent interdict application to suspend the DA’s termination of her membership last week.

Gamble, reading the judgment, said that the court was “genuinely concerned” about governance stability in Cape Town after De Lille’s mayoral committee was dissolved.

Her court bid to challenge the DA cessation of membership clause, and the fact that the DA and De Lille are “not shy to litigate” may further hinder the establishment of a stable mayoral committee, Gamble said.

The acting mayor of the city Ian Neilson said he would delay appointing a mayoral committee until the court delivers a judgment on whether De Lille would be reinstated.

Exactly a week ago, the DA rescinded her membership under its cessation clause because De Lille had told Radio 702 host Eusebius McKaiser she was willing to “walk away” once she had cleared her name. De Lille insisted she meant she would resign as mayor and not as a member of the party.

The cessation clause means that a DA membership can cease if a member publicly makes an intention to resign.

De Lille is challenging the constitutionality of the clause and says it violates the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA).

The judgment

De Lille maintained in court papers that her comments were misinterpreted because she meant she would resign as mayor, and not as a party member.

But Gamble said De Lille’s explanation is “not tenable at this stage” and that the full context of interview indicates that Ms De Lille’s “relationship with the party has all but come to an end”.

Gamble said that when De Lille told McKaiser that “the writing is on the wall” it showed her willingness to resign from the party.

But Gamble and Samela’s concern for the people of Cape Town has saved De Lille’s job.

Gamble said that the “only reasonable” option he and Samela had is to return to the status quo before De Lille was notified by the party that her membership had been terminated or governance in Cape Town may become collateral damage in a “musical chairs” of mayoral committee members.

De Lille and her mayoral committee — which includes DA caucus members who have said they have lost confidence in her — will remain in office pending the review hearing on May 25.

De Lille reacted to the judgment on Tuesday by thanking her supporters and vowing to not let them down while she remained in office.

The DA meanwhile has said that it is “inconceivable” that they are expected to work with a mayor who has lost the confidence of caucus members.

Read the full judgment below:

  De Lille Interdict Final by Kiri Rupiah on Scribd

This is developing story and will be updated as more details emerge.
Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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