Patricia de Lille will be a "lame duck" mayor, with the DA caucus calling the shots in the city, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said after an interim court order effectively restored her to her post on Tuesday.
"She can sit in the office and drink tea, and drive around in CA1 but, you know, she's just not going to be able to do anything other than ask for oversight, because, you know, the DA caucus is essentially going to call the shots," said Neilson.
Straight after the interim order was granted, De Lille, dressed in a blue suit, left the Western Cape High Court building and walked up Keerom Street, saying she was going for a meeting with her legal team, and then on to work.
Neilson was appointed acting mayor last week after the DA kicked De Lille out of the party and the council notified the Electoral Commission of a vacancy in the council.
De Lille approached the Western Cape High Court urgently and, after a hearing on Friday, judges Patric Gamble and Monde Samela issued an interdict that the Electoral Commission not fill the vacancy until the matter is concluded in court, and reserved judgment to Tuesday.
On Tuesday, during a special sitting during the lunch hour, the court granted an interim order that the DA's termination of De Lille's membership be suspended, which would allow her to return to the mayoral office in the interim.
Full argument in her battle against the DA, which she represented in the council, will be heard on May 25.
The mayoral committee (Mayco) would also stay in place to avoid the "musical chairs" of an interim committee being appointed, amid a water crisis and growing protests, until the De Lille challenge is finalised, the court ruled.
'The judges didn't understand the dynamics properly'
Neilson said it was not legally possible to challenge an interim order, so De Lille would be allowed back to work, pending the outcome of the case set for May 25.
"Until then we will just have to wait," he said.
Asked whether she would have any decision-making powers, following a tweet by the DA that she would be doing nothing at rate payers' expense, Neilson said: "Well, obviously, she still has her statutory powers.
"But in practice, she will be a lame duck mayor because, I mean, clearly the judges didn't understand the dynamics 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."
However, all of the City's administration was still in place, said Neilson.
"The City Manager [Lungelo Mbandazayo] is there, you know, the staff are still in place, executive directors, they will carry on with their work, the portfolio committees still all work, the council, will continue to meet, will be meeting, at the end of this month to pass the budget for example.
"All of this carries on, you know, whether she's there or not."