Judge Patrick Gamble announced the court order in Patricia de Lille’s favour at the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday afternoon, ruling that the DA’s cessation of membership notice had been suspended and De Lille could return to office in the interim.
Concerned about the impact of instability on the citizens of Cape Town, the judge said that there were important decisions to be made by the city such as the proposed budget as well as the water crisis. Gamble said that it was important to consider how convenient electing a new mayoral committee would be at this time and the court was more concerned about the possible effects of Cape Town losing its mayor right now.
Gamble recognised, however, that the relationship between the DA and De Lille was coming to an end.
Gamble said that the court feared that the party’s politics would resemble a game of “musical chairs” with executive positions constantly being changed and he argued that this was not in the interests of the city and its people.
Following the ruling, De Lille said that she was looking forward to going back into office as soon as possible. “I really think now it’s up to the leadership of the DA to make a decision whether we continue to fight like we are doing now or we put the people of the City of Cape Town first,” she said.
The interim interdict was granted pending court proceedings on more substantive matters on 25 May.
The interim ruling follows De Lille’s decision to approach the court last Friday seeking an interdict preventing the DA from declaring her mayoral seat vacant.
De Lille opened a two-part application against the DA, for the vacancy of the mayoral position, which the city wanted to declare open, and for the DA’s use of the cessation of membership clause.
The cessation of membership clause states that a leader’s membership can be removed once they publicly declare their intention to resign.
De Lille made a statement on Eusebius McKaiser’s Radio 702 talk show on 26 April saying that she would “walk away” from the party once she had cleared her name. Using the cessation of membership clause, the DA axed her instantly from the party, saying that the statement that she had made implied that she intended leaving the party.
As a result of her being axed, the DA argued that the party leadership, at its Fedex meeting, did not take any decision on whether to uphold a motion of no confidence against the mayor brought by DA councillors in the Cape Town council earlier in April.
The mayor’s position was temporarily filled by De Lille’s deputy Ian Neilson. Neilsen was due to appoint his Mayco team on Monday, but postponed it pending the outcome of today’s judgment.
De Lille has been a member of the DA since 2010. DM