In an exclusive interview with Polity on Thursday Patricia de Lille said that all she wanted was to clear her name, after accusing the Democratic Alliance (DA) of using double standards to get rid of her as Cape Town mayor.
On Tuesday, DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe and deputy chair Natasha Mazzone held a press briefing to announced that the DA had rescinded De Lille’s membership.
She has challenged the DA’s decision to remove her as mayor and the matter will be heard at the Cape Town High Court on Friday.
De Lille added that it was not easy for her to simply walk away without clearing her name after being in politics for 40 years, and after building a strong reputation for herself in the country.
“If I walk away people will say I am guilty. I have to clear my name. Your name is your honour, your name is what you have worked for hard for many years. For me to become a household name in this country, I had to work, to earn the respect of South Africans and, therefore, I know that all the investment I am making to pay for my legal fees is because your name and your integrity is priceless. It is not as simple as walking away thinking that it will be over. This dark cloud will be hanging over me for the rest of my life,” she averred.
Mazzone told Polity yesterday 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 she reportedly said she would resign from the party once she had cleared her name.
The DA had since applied clause 126.96.36.199 of its constitution, which says that if a member publicly makes known his or her intentions to resign, their membership is ceased, to De Lille.
De Lille, however, told Polity that her interview with McKaiser was misconstrued and that she did not say she would leave the party but rather that she would leave the mayorship position after clearing her name.
She also revealed that her defence team will use case studies in court on Friday to show that other DA members, including leader Mmusi Maimane, have said they would resign if the DA party did not deliver.
“There is just double standard of the application of this clause compared to other people in the party. That is what we are also bringing to the court to say that this clause has not been equally applied to other members,” she explained.
De Lille has survived a motion of no confidence, as well as a disciplinary hearing in the DA, over an initial alleged instance of wrongdoing on her part, which she says shows that the party failed to produce evidence to support that allegation.
In the meantime, she outlines her belief that, “the DA saw a shorter route to get rid of me by the terminating my membership because all of these things will fall away and its almost a concession now that they never really had anything that could stand up to find me guilty”.
De Lille also confirmed to Polity that Maimane had offered her a job as a Member of Parliament in exchange for the mayorship position.
“As a public representative, if the party feels I am not fit to serve at a local level as a public representative then I can’t serve as a public representative in parliament. My argument is let me clear my name, if I go to Parliament can you imagine how the heckling will go on,” she said.
When asked whether she should be addressed as Cape Town Mayor, De Lille said it was not about the title.
“To me it is about justice and fairness. The DA believes that they have terminated my services politically, and therefore I am not the mayor, but in terms of the electoral Act, it states that you only cease to be a Councillor once the Independence Electoral Commission [IEC] has declared a vacancy. The IEC did not declare a vacancy in my case because we have interdicted the IEC not to declare a vacancy until the court case on Friday,” she added.
De Lille said the DA has also acted immaturely by disrespecting the impending court case by hastening to remove her from her office as well as introducing new staff and even taking away her drivers.
She says Mazzone was arrogant in telling Polity that the court case would come out in the DA’s favour.
“I respect that we are all equal before the law, that’s why I will abide by the outcome of the case tomorrow. It is very arrogant to say they will win the case, because the judiciary is completely independent. I am taking it one day at a time. This battle has been going on for more than eight months – and just about on every front, I have been able to prove the DA wrong,” De Lille stated.
She told Polity that the overwhelming support from South Africans and prayers from many people across the country is what keeps her going and added that she was extremely grateful.
“The power of prayer from so many people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane, and many other religious leaders praying for me on a daily basis, that is what keeps me going, because although I have a few individuals within the DA that try to get rid of me, on the other hand I have support from many South Africans that I am eternally grateful for,” she said.
De Lille went on to blame Maimane for failing to ensure that she received a fair disciplinary process and for not ensuring that she was treated equally in terms of the party constitution.
“I have never refused to be subjected to a fair process. I have always said charge me and bring the evidence and the witnesses because that is the due process in any political party,” she challenged.
She hopes to continue to work hard to ensure that more people will taste the fruits of the country’s new democracy, she concluded.