De Lille squeezes in as opposition parties jam the mayoral door open

CAPE TOWN — The political shenanigans that preceded the one-vote victory for Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille in the No-Confidence debate last week must have been quite something to watch. Basically, she’s now ruling courtesy of the DA’s political opponents, the ANC, Freedom Front and COPE who together with some minority DA support helped her scrape in. It’s a fascinating set-up as she may be forced to rely on the opposition to get her budget through. For all her detractors, De Lille, has always been a maverick solo act, moving between parties, outlasting, outwitting and outplaying her opponents. That the DA squarely faced her down, delivering an excoriating report into her conduct, doesn’t bode well for her longevity, but for now she’s strutting her stuff again, legitimately as the Mother City’s First Citizen. You can be sure the drama isn’t over. The DA can hardly tolerate a metropolitan leader who blithely uses its’ enemies against it – especially when consolidation is so vital against a revitalised ANC. – Chris Bateman

By Donwald Pressly*

The speaker of the City of Cape Town, Dirk Smit, has released a report setting out exactly how all the councillors voted in the vote of no confidence in Mayor Patricia de Lille. The vote took place shortly before lunch on Thursday. De Lille won the vote with 110 councillors voting for her and against the motion. Those wishing to throw her out, numbered just one fewer – 109 councillors.

Donwald Pressly

The details of each and every councillor is out in the open because the Speaker, Dirk Smit, ruled that the public interest test required him to hold the open vote open – that it would not be a secret ballot. Mayor de Lille described his ruling as “unlawful” and walked out of the council session. However, she said the outcome of the vote – in her favour – was now a fait accompli and she could live with it.

After her unexpected victory on Thursday, De Lille said that 46 DA councillors had voted in favour of her. The actual figure appears to be a few lower – 39. Two councillors from the DA caucus did not vote. Altogether 107 DA councillors voted against the mayor.

This latter figure represents a growth of 23 councillors from the 84 DA caucus members who voted against De Lille in an internal caucus meeting – which opted to propose the motion of no confidence in the council chamber.

Another two councillors from other parties voted against the mayor. They were Freedom Front Councillor FB Rossouw and CMC Councillor Y Adams.

Patricia de Lille, mayor of Cape Town, poses for a photograph following an interview at her office in Cape Town. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

So to summarise, 107 DA councillors voted against De Lille, 39 voted for her, 58 ANC councillors voted for her, a total of 71 opposition councillors voted for her. Two opposition councillors voted in favour of the motion – and against her. Three African Christian Democratic Party councillors abstained.

Opposition parties including the EFF, COPE and the African National Congress supported the mayor – and voted against the vote of no confidence.

Significantly Speaker Smit – who has been a staunch ally of De Lille up to now – crossed the floor and voted “yes” in favour of the vote of no confidence.

However, on the mayor’s side in the caucus was Transport Mayoral Committee member Brett Herron – a longstanding ally from Independent Democrats days. De Lille previously led the ID before the party imploded into the Democratic Alliance. Another ally for De Lille was Suzette Little, who is caucus leader.

Read also: De Lille saga reveals how DA stacks up against the ANC today – Suttner

Another key ally of the mayor was Siyabulela Mamkeli, a mayoral committee member for Area Central – a kind of “mini-mayor”. It was Mamkeli who saved De Lille’s bacon in the vote on Thursday. After the Speaker initially rescheduled the meeting to another venue – because the ANC was objecting on procedural grounds to the meeting continuing – to leave the ANC caucus behind, it was Mamkeli who intervened to allow the ANC to vote.

Councillors then returned to the main auditorium and all opposition parties were present for the vote.

The ANC’s vote in favour of De Lille – and against the motion – was pivotal in providing the winning vote for De Lille. The entire ANC caucus of 58 members voted No to the vote of no confidence. This definitely helped to save De Lille’s bacon because the ANC had earlier tabled a motion of no confidence in her – but when the DA opted to support its motion, it withdrew that motion. On Thursday, its councillors explained that they wanted the whole DA government out in Cape Town – but would not support “factional battles” of the DA.

Read also: Rule by diktat – DA just as susceptible as ANC: The full De Lille charge sheet

The vote could have gone either way. If the African Christian Democratic Party had stuck to its guns to vote against De Lille – it decided to abstain – she would have lost. The party’s three councillors, led by former deputy mayor Grant Haskin, abstained. In addition two DA councillors did not vote.

It is not clear how De Lille will rule the city now with a divided caucus. She has the support of a minority of her own party’s caucus. She may have to depend on the opposition to support the City’s budget.

It may prove to be a pyrrhic victory for De Lille. But she is living proof that a week is a staggeringly long time in politics.

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