Democratic Alliance (DA) federal executive deputy chairperson Natasha Mazzone on Wednesday told Polity that her party was confident that all due processes were followed to rescind Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille’s party membership yesterday.
Mazzone revealed that her party had received a letter of complaint against De Lille from Free State DA leader Patricia Kopane following De Lille’s interview with Eusebius McKaiser on his radio talk show on April 26, in which De Lille reportedly said she would resign from the party once she had cleared her name.
On Tuesday, DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe and Mazzone held a press briefing in Cape Town where it was announced that the DA had rescinded de Lille’s membership.
Mazzone explained that the matter was then followed up by the party’s federal legal commission for further investigation which examined De Lille’s radio interview with McKaiser.
She said a written transcript of the interview was also examined and later the findings were presented to the party’s federal executive, which resolved that De Lille had indeed made her intentions to resign known.
“We have a constitution in the DA [that] all members sign up [with] when they join the party, which is a part of the code of conduct that all members should adhere to. One of the codes of conduct is section 126.96.36.199 which states that if a member publicly makes known his or her intentions to resign, their membership is ceased,” said Mazzone.
De Lille, who still refers to herself as Cape Town mayor, has said that the DA has left her no choice but to seek relief from the courts to clear her name. She will now head to court to fight the DA’s decision to remove her as party member.
The DA has since announced Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson as the acting mayor of the City of Cape Town.
The DA and De Lille battle has been brewing for over eight months and has been seen by some political analyst as self-destructive and heralding of punishment for the party at the polls in 2019.
Mazzone said her party was aware of De Lille’s crimen injuria charges that she intended to lay against the DA.
However, Mazzone told Polity that she did not think that De Lille’s membership termination would have a massive effect on the party come election time, despite admitting that the issue has caused the party massive reputational damage.
“We are well aware of the fact that this entire saga has brought the DA under a lot of scrutiny and caused our reputation to take a bashing. I would hope that our voters realise that we knew the chance that we were taking in terms of our reputation when we started this case. This shows that we are so serious about accountability that we would rather risk our reputation in any way, shape or form than not seem to be acting fairly if there is slightest hint of misconduct or maladministration because we take accountability so seriously,” she explained.
When asked about DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s absence from the press briefing in which De Lille’s membership was rescinded Mazzone said the DA’s federal chairperson James Selfe, herself and Thomas Walters as deputy chairpersons and national spokesperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe were available to field the questions.
“It was a decision taken by the federal executive, so the leadership of the federal executive was present,” she rebutted.
Mazzone went on to say that the DA would rebuild trust amongst its voters in the buildup to the elections and stressed that more information would be given to the voters on the recent developments. She also vowed that the DA would deliver excellent service delivery in the City of Cape Town.
On the recent comments made by Maimane in Pretoria at a Freedom Day celebration where he stated that “white privilege and black poverty” needed to be confronted, Mazzone said that the ructions within the party caucus over these utterances had not taken the form of an attack, as had been reported in the media.
“It was simply a robust debate about white privilege and black poverty and how we as a political party address these issues and take our country forward in the spirit of unity, redress and in making sure that we have opportunity in society for all South Africans,” she concluded.