DA trying to deny De Lille disciplinary hearing – Dali Mpofu
13 February 2018
Cape Town – The DA is using a motion of no confidence against Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille to avoid holding disciplinary proceedings against her, Advocate Dali Mpofu SC told the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
"They want to get rid of her, but they want to get rid of her without affording her the rights of a hearing and disciplinary process," said Mpofu, who is applying for the motion of no confidence to be held by secret ballot.
"They [the DA] want to get rid of her by manipulating the rules of council," he said.
However, De Lille is not against Thursday's motion of no confidence, said Mpofu.
She merely wants the vote on it to be held through a secret ballot so that members can vote "according to their conscience" and not just do what the DA tells them to do. She wants them to be free from reprisal should they not take the usual party caucus line.
A 'free vote'
Mpofu is leading the charge in the High Court, a sequel to a similar application to the Constitutional Court last year by the UDM and supported by the DA, for a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma to be held by secret ballot.
In that case, the court said it could not tell National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete what to do, but confirmed that she did have the right to decide whether to hold a secret ballot vote or not.
Mpofu said the DA had since indicated that it was not opposed to DA councillors voting freely, instead of as instructed by their caucus, but the party did not see the point of holding the vote in secret.
Mpofu said it was also not clear whether the party's new stance – that councillors could vote freely – had been communicated to the DA councillors.
He said the councillors had no obligation to vote according to what the DA told them, because their oath of office is to serve the public, not the party.
He argued that if the party did agree to a "free vote", this was "by definition" a secret vote.
'Why are we here?'
Mpofu said that to make councillors vote openly on such a sensitive matter was "suicide" for the councillors concerned.
However, Judge Robert Henney cut in and asked why they were all in court if the DA had decided to let its councillors have a "free vote" instead of following the party line.
Mpofu said the problem was that the party had already said it did not think that a secret vote was necessary, so even suggesting one in council ahead of the motion of no confidence could be a risk to a councillor's position.
The court adjourned for lunch, and for counsel to discuss among themselves whether there still was a dispute. News24
Judgment reserved in De Lille's secret ballot bid
Cape Town - Judgment was reserved in Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille's court bid to have a motion of no confidence in her held by secret ballot.
"This court's ruling will stand over until tomorrow until 2 o'clock," said Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney.
De Lille brought the urgent application so that Thursday's motion of no confidence in her, set for 10:00 at the City of Cape Town's council meeting, be one of "conscience" and "free will", instead of DA councillors simply doing what their party tells them what to do.
She also wants the vote to be held in secret so that none of the councillors fear any reprisals by party officials who see how they vote.
Currently they vote by raised hand, or electronically.
It is in the Speaker's discretion to say whether it can be a secret vote or not, if the issue arises, according to council rules.
De Lille brought in advocate Dali Mpofu to argue her case because he had handled the United Democratic Movement's similar application to the Constitutional Court to force Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete to hold a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in secret.
This was to allow ANC members to vote as they pleased.
In that case, the court ruled that it could not tell the speaker to hold the motion of no confidence in secret, but said she had the authority to decide whether to hold a secret vote or not. Mbete went ahead with the secret ballot and Zuma survived.
The DA is in the majority in the City of Town, and De Lille is serving her second term as mayor, on a DA ticket. But the federal executive, chaired by James Selfe, wants her out and told its caucus in council to vote her out via the motion of no confidence.
It has since done an about-turn, and said its members in council can vote freely, with no fear of reprisal. But De Lille insists this is not enough and that a secret vote is required.
She has also been taken off communication related to the City's Day Zero water scarcity crisis, with Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane controversially holding a press conference to communicate the City's efforts.
De Lille has been accused of allegedly covering up claims of corruption in the transport department. The party also helped entrepreneur Anthony Faul lay a criminal case against her for allegedly trying to solicit a R5m bribe, more than 5 years ago, for the supply of fire extinguishers to Imizamo Yethu.
She has denied the claims.
On Friday, the DA gave De Lille until 15:00 to withdraw her application, stating that she did not understand the law, but De Lille went ahead. She believes the motion of no confidence is a bid to remove her without having to go through disciplinary proceedings.
In the lengthy argument in court, Henney repeatedly wrestled with whether he had the right to tell a party or a council what to do regarding a vote.