17 December 2017

South Africa: De Lille Fights Back - DA's Reason to Suspend Me Is Unwarranted

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille says the Democratic Alliance does not have sufficient reason to remove her.

The DA's federal executive announced on Thursday that De Lille would be suspended from party activities - pending investigations - and that it had asked her to give reasons why she should not resign as mayor.

She said in a statement on Sunday that if the party proceeded with steps to go ahead with a motion of no confidence against her, she would go the legal route to try and prevent this.

On Sunday she issued a statement saying: "I am of the view that they [the reasons] do not warrant my suspension nor my removal".

'Unfair process'

"I am of the view that the 'process' that has been followed has been patently unfair towards me. My legal team will convey this to [the federal executive], as they have done repeatedly during the last few months."

De Lille said she remained hopeful that she could dissuade the federal executive from taking the "drastic step" of initiating a motion of no confidence against her.

"But if we cannot do so, I would naturally have to consider alternatives to defend my reputation of a lifetime of fighting against corruption and addressing inequality in our society."

De Lille on Thursday told News24 that she had been given until Monday, December 18, to respond to a slew of allegations against her.

At that point, she had not yet been aware of the reasons regarding her suspension.

On Sunday she said the DA had shared its reasons.

Legal action

"I have made no secret of the fact that I will consider legal action if the DA decides to remove me from my position as the mayor of Cape Town," De Lille said.

"Leading a team, we worked extremely hard to elevate the administration to its current position of being the best run in South Africa."

She said the DA received its mandate from the people of Cape Town and she had delivered "extremely well" on this.

"The people of Cape Town further validated the work that we have done with a two-thirds majority in the 2016 Local Government Elections," De Lille said.

"I still believe that the DA is the best alternative in the country and we have proved this in the City of Cape Town."

De Lille's response to report

She said she was focused on compiling detailed submissions to the federal executive regarding allegations against her.

This was in a response to the "Steenhuisen report".

In September, it emerged that a subcommittee, headed by parliamentary whip John Steenhuisen, was established by the DA's federal executive to look into tensions and political management in the City of Cape Town.

This subcommittee, convened by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, had started its hearings on October 3.

It is understood that several councillors testified in the hearings and that several allegations were made against, among others, De Lille.

A report from that subcommittee was compiled based on this, and this is what De Lille had until Monday to respond to.

"For now, the thrust of my response is to deal with the merits of the allegations in the report as comprehensively as possible in the time afforded to me," she said on Sunday.

In September it emerged that De Lille ordered the shutting down of the City's special investigations unit.

This move was one of the several matters focused on in by the subcommittee.

It had also resulted in a spat between her and mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services JP Smith, who had overseen the unit.The move unearthed shocking claims that some city councillors may have been involved in a murder and that building work done at her home may not have been legal.

A separate independent investigation into allegations of wrongdoing, including those of maladministration, within the City of Cape Town is also being conducted.

The deadline for this probe is December 29. A full report will then be presented to the council.

This investigation relates to a massive spat unearthed as a result of a November special confidential council meeting.

During this meeting, it was unanimously resolved that the City's performance audit committee be instructed to appoint an independent investigator, to probe allegations against the executive director of De Lille's office, Craig Kesson, city manager Achmat Ebrahim, and Melissa Whitehead, the commissioner of the transport and urban development authority.

Claims and counterclaims

This process resulted in several claims and counterclaims being made against some of the City's most senior staffers.

In an affidavit, Kesson had alleged that De Lille had planned to publicly discredit a senior city staffer who questioned alleged tender irregularities.

He also claimed De Lille had asked that a report into a possible R43m loss regarding another tender be made to "go away".

De Lille had hit back saying his actions were not that of a whistleblower, but were criminal.

Several other allegations were exchanged between top city staffers.

Source: News24

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