Patricia de Lille has finally answered the question many have asked of her over the past week: Yes, she is resigning as mayor of Cape Town.
“I wish to inform the public that I will be resigning today effective 19.00 hours tonight,” De Lille said on her final day as mayor.
Surrounded by her supporters and journalists outside the Cape Town high court, De Lille announced her resignation — effective from 7pm on Wednesday — with one last battle. She had just filed court papers to have the City of Cape Town’s decision to adopt a report from law firm Bowmans implicating her in criminal wrongdoing reviewed and set aside.
De Lille took this opportunity to take a swipe at the speaker of council, Dirk Smit. Smit had told journalists yesterday that he had received De Lille’s resignation letter, but the mayor accused him of lying because she had not yet written a letter to the speaker’s office. Her initial resignation letter — penned in August — was to Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane and not the city. She accused Smit of now “singing for his supper” as she alleged his job may also be on the line.
De Lille reflected on the past year, which has been fraught with tensions between her and the DA, saying, “This whole saga has been very disappointing.”
“I have declined many public representative positions offered to me including being a minister, an MPL, [and] a member of parliament because my fight was for fairness and justice and never a position,” she said.
Standing at the steps of the high court, De Lille then read the resignation letter she will hand over to Smit. According to her reading, the letter is as follows:
“Dear Mr Speaker,
I note that you have jumped the gun yesterday, by announcing that you have received a resignation letter from me. That letter, dated 4 August, was not addressed to you Speaker, so that was a blatant lie yesterday.
Please note that this is my official resignation letter from the City of Cape Town as the executive mayor effective from 19:00 hours on the 31st of October.
I have spent more than seven years of my life devoted to the success of the administration of this city, because the people of this great city deserved nothing less. It’s for this reason that I can vacate my position in the knowledge that I have given everything.
Despite the effort to tarnish the work of my hands I remain resolute to serve my country in any capacity because I know that the truth will prevail.”
She thanked Capetonians for their support, as well as the administration and her staff. De Lille then made another announcement.
“I am also resigning as a member of the Democratic Alliance,” she said.
Shouts of “viva” and “amandla” erupted from the gathered crowd as De Lille made clear her intentions to leave the party.
“When you have to work with people who are throwing dirt at you on a daily basis you walk away. I have been fighting from a very young age in my life. I’ve always been fighting for the people of this country especially the poor and the vulnerable. My fight has never been about personal gain,” she said.
Her fight with the DA is by no means over, she added.
“Those idiots that have continued to smear my name in public, I will clear my name in public and I will make sure that I invest whatever little money I have to make sure that I clear my name,” she said.
De Lille will now take two weeks leave and then consult with her family before she announces her future plans. She repeated, however, that is prepared to “serve my country in any capacity”.
According to De Lille, two other councillors have also resigned from the city council bringing the total number who have left in what appears to be support of De Lille and frustration with the DA, to seven.
For De Lille, the day she walked away from the party is cause to celebrate freedom. From the steps of the high court, with a smile on her face, she said: “I’m free! Amandla!’