DA shuts down De Lille’s call for public DC hearing

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has shut down Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille's call for her upcoming disciplinary hearing to be conducted publicly.

De Lille said on Sunday that she was looking forward to testing the multiple charges against her during the party’s four-day disciplinary process this week, which is to start on Tuesday.

She called for the proceedings to be conducted publicly so that the public could assess matters.

However, she had not heard back from the party.

DA federal council chairperson James Selfe on Monday slammed the mayor’s suggestion, saying that it was “fallacious reasoning” as De Lille had signed up for the party’s protocols when she became a member.

The matter related to her alleged contravention of the party’s constitution. The process was therefore different to the corruption investigations currently under way in the City of Cape Town council, Selfe said.

“Ms De Lille is the one who constantly alleges that she was facing charges of corruption. We have never said so,” Selfe said in a statement.

“It is true that there is a simultaneous investigation taking place in the City and, depending on its outcome, it is possible that further charges will be put to Ms De Lille.”

‘No interest to the public’

Her hearing was therefore “an internal matter” between a member and the party, he said.

“It is of no interest to the general public and has nothing to do with her relationship with the City of Cape Town council,” Selfe declared.

“Internal party disciplinary issues are not generally open to the public, since it is a contractual relationship in which the public has no input or interest.”

To suggest that the hearing could only be fair if the public was able to assess it was “devoid of any truth in law or fact”, he said, adding that the panel was not a “pseudo police force”.

“Ms De Lille, having herself served on the federal executive of the DA for many years, and viewed the disciplinary process up close, had no issue with it until now.”

Camerer ‘totally impartial’

De Lille also said on Sunday that one of the three chairpersons overseeing the matter – Sheila Camerer – should recuse herself.

She said she did not believe that Camerer – a pre-1994 deputy justice minister – was “competent or suitable to hear the matter”, saying that she hadn’t “practised law in decades and she is a known political opponent”.

Selfe blasted those comments too, saying that the panel was appointed according to the party’s normal procedures.

“All the members of the panel hold legal qualifications, and all of them have practised law for many years,” Selfe continued.

“Ms De Lille sarcastically alludes to ‘maar haastige hond verbrand sy mond’. Yet she accuses Sheila Camerer of being ‘a deputy minister of justice in apartheid South Africa’ and of not having practised law in decades.”

Selfe said Camerer was also appointed deputy justice minister by former president Nelson Mandela and that she was a practising attorney.

“Further to this, she served as a member of Parliament for more than two decades and also served as the ambassador to Bulgaria.

“There is no reason to suggest that they are anything but totally independent and impartial,” Selfe said.

De Lille should send through a request through the proper channels if she wants a change in the composition of the panel, “not the subjective claptrap contained in her press statement”.

‘We will be objective’

The other chairpersons are two North West councillors – Tlokwe councillor Hans-Jurie Moolman and Potchefstroom councillor Pogiso Monchusi – both practising attorneys.

Moolman told News24 on Monday they had not received a formal request for the process to be open.

The panel however, has to be impartial in its role, just like the courts.

“We do try to play a total objective role in this matter in the same way as the judiciary, and we are in the same position as the judiciary to wait, hear the matter and apply our minds on the matter.”

He said the committee needs to apply its mind to what was placed before it.

Camerer preferred not to comment on the recusal request and referred questions to Selfe.

However, she said she was surprised by the accusations and added that she has had years of experience and previously headed up the party’s disciplinary panel. She also dismissed the claim that she was De Lille’s “opponent”.

“We are all colleagues here and we were all thrilled when she joined,” she added. DM


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