Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille may be back in office but she’s not necessarily in charge of the city.
The high court in Cape Town reinstated De Lille’s mayorship on Tuesday. In its reaction to the ruling, the DA said De Lille’s powers as mayor will be stripped and the caucus will instead make decisions that are ordinarily determined by the mayor.
“De Lille will now act in only a ceremonial role, with substantive governance decisions to be taken by the DA caucus in the interests of the people of Cape Town (while enjoying the benefits of a Mayoral Salary at rate-payer expense),” Natasha Mazzone, deputy chairperson of the federal executive, said in a press statement.
Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela said in their judgement that De Lille should return to office pending a court hearing to take place on May 25. The hearing will deal with De Lille’s application to review the DA’s cessation of membership clause on grounds that is unconstitutional. The clause was invoked by the party to terminate her membership and remove her from office.
If she succeeds in the review hearing, De Lille could remain mayor for a longer period of time than the two weeks Gamble and Samela have allowed her.
But the party says that it is unable to work with her and that the caucus has no faith in her leadership.
“It is inconceivable that the DA would be expected to work with a mayor who has lost the confidence of two-thirds of the caucus that she leads on no less than two occasions,” Mazzone said.
Gamble, reading the judgement on Tuesday, said that De Lille should be reinstated because the court is “genuinely concerned” about the stability of governance in Cape Town. The judge said that the “only reasonable” option available was to put De Lille back in office and re-establish her mayoral committee so that there is no “musical chairs” of an interim committee being appointed and then kicked out if the City has a new mayor.
Ian Neilson — who has now returned to his post as deputy mayor after serving as acting mayor while De Lille’s membership was terminated — has called his reinstated colleague a “lame duck”.
“Well, obviously she still has her statutory powers,” Neilson told News24. “But in practice she will be a lame duck mayor because, I mean, clearly the judges didn’t understand the dynamic properly when they thought that this was bringing stability. In fact, it’s going to achieve exactly the opposite.”
“Because, the party is going to ensure that its decisions are executed, so anything that she attempts to do will be subject to the approval of the DA caucus.”
De Lille, meanwhile, has tweeted photos of herself back in office and has said she would like to “rise above these differences”.
“We must put the city first,” she said.