Embattled Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille's announcement of her intention to lodge a court application to review two controversial Bowmans reports is an attempt by her to avoid accountability for governance failures in the City during her tenure, says DA deputy chairperson of federal council Natasha Mazzone.
One of the reports recommends that she be criminally investigated for maladministration by Wednesday, which would have been her last day as mayor.
De Lille was addressing the Cape Town Press Club, and according to Mazzone, her speech confirmed what the party has suspected: "Ms De Lille will do everything in her power to evade accountability for the governance failures she has presided over.
"She is doing everything possible to confuse and mislead the public. She is certainly no friend of the truth and is now throwing mud at an unprecedented rate," said Mazzone in a statement.
In August De Lille and DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced that the DA would drop the internal charges relating to the DA constitution against her, and she would resign as mayor on October 31.
"I didn't make a deal with the DA at all," De Lille said on Monday. She has previously made a similar statement.
Smear campaign claims
Asked if it was correct that there was no deal, Mazzone told News24 in a text message: "This is absolutely untrue. There is a signed agreement between Ms De Lille and Mr Maimane. They had a joint press conference about it. I have no idea why she would say this."
The last 18 months' bitter battle between De Lille and her party came to a head last week when the Cape Town city council adopted the two Bowmans reports.
De Lille has consistently denied any wrongdoing and says the allegations against her are an attempt to smear her name.
Mazzone said De Lille had "repeatedly vilified the DA for doing what is right and what is expected from us as an organisation that demands the highest level of accountability, transparency and good governance from those who have been elected to public office. No matter how senior, or their personal history".
According to Mazzone the facts were simple and as follows:
- An independent investigation appointed by the City of Cape Town council, and for which De Lille voted, recommended that she be criminally charged for interfering in the city's tenders, and the legal duties and obligations of the former city manager, Achmat Ebrahim, in instituting legally required disciplinary action against officials guilty of violating the law;
- The 2 000-page report by the independent investigators "details how De Lille's conduct systematically broke down good governance in the City of Cape Town", according to Mazzone;
- She did so by actively shielding and defending officials guilty of criminal acts in relation to the BYD bus tender, where processes were fraudulently manipulated to illegally favour one bus provider, and the Volvo chassis matter, where the mayor chose to ignore and shield officials from consequential action for irregular payment of R50m; and
- The independent report found that De Lille's failure to bring the matter to the attention of the city council was a failure of her duties in respect of municipal and financial misconduct regulations.
The city council will now charge De Lille under section 119 of the Municipal systems Act which reads: "A councillor who attempts to influence the municipal manager or any other staff member or an agent of a municipality not to enforce an obligation in terms of this act, any other applicable legislation or any by-law or decision of the council of the municipality, is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years."
'People of the City come first'
Melissa Whitehead, the suspended commissioner for transport, and mayoral committee member Brett Herron will now also likely be criminally charged. Like De Lille, Herron has denied any wrongdoing and questioned the credibility of the Bowmans report.
"Ms De Lille has aggressively and constantly publicly defended them both for their actions and has simultaneously attacked the whistleblowers who bought their and her misconduct and criminal actions to the fore," said Mazzone.
On Monday, De Lille remained coy on whether she would resign on Wednesday.
She said she had remained focused on her mayoral duties for the past 18 months because "I always said the people of the City must come first".
Asked if staging a public battle in defence of her name did not contradict the idea of putting the people of Cape Town first, De Lille said: "Am I not entitled to consult my lawyers?"
Mazzone said: "Ms De Lille has committed to resign from the mayoral office on the 31st of October. Our priority is to bring stability and mature leadership in the City of Cape Town and to put the needs of the people first. This is the mandate that the mayor-elect, Dan Plato, has been given."