De Lille’s powers stripped, sent nasty note

Patricia de Lille. Image Donwald Pressly

The full council of the City of Cape Town has voted to reduce the role of Mayor Patricia de Lille to that of a ceremonial mayor, but she is also now in trouble for making promises to communities at meetings which could “bring the (city) council into disrepute”.

On the same day that the full council voted 137 votes to 50 to reduce her powers from an executive mayor to a ceremonial mayor, De Lille received a letter from the speaker, Dirk Smit. He said he had been informed that she had been holding meetings with communities about service delivery.

“I have received a complaint that you have been holding public meetings over the past two weeks with communities regarding service delivery and development of which you have been committing the council to projects and consequently to expenditure which has not yet been approved by council… and that you intend to enter into written agreement in this regard,” wrote Smit in his formal capacity.

This he said looked like she was acting in a manner which “could potentially bring the council into conflict with communities”. It could also bring the council into disrepute, he charged. The council could, indeed, be financially compromised, he said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that De Lille had agreed with Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson to divide up the areas where there had been land invasions. De Lille specifically met representatives, in her mayoral office, of the Vrygrond troubles. In Vrygrond, at Muizenberg, land invasions onto council and private land had been taking place in the last two weeks. It has been accompanied by much violence and destruction of private property. At least four motor vehicles were torched, including the local councillor’s.

The dividing up of responsibilities is confirmed in a letter written by De Lille to Neilson, in which she said she had carved up responsibilities for dealing with the land invasion question with Deputy Mayor Neilson. They had agreed that she would deal with Marikana, Philippi, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Atlantis, Mfuleni, Vrygrond, Delt, Dunoon, Luzuko housing project and Strand. Neilson would deal with Parkwood, Macassar, Wallacedene in Kraaifontein, Witsand and Tafelsig.

Meanwhile, Smit said that if the complaint was substantiated “I am of the opinion that your conduct would constitute a breach of … the code of conduct for councillors”. This section of the code requires a councillor to perform the function of office in good faith, honesty and in a transparent manner.

Meanwhile De Lille said that she would see the Democratic Alliance in court over the reduction of her powers. She said that she felt like she was carrying a passbook – like the passbook black people were required to carry during the apartheid days.

She said that there was a “baaskap” mentality in the DA city caucus which had plunged to such depths that the latest move to reduce her powers felt like carrying a passbook.

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