De Lille’s blunders cost Cape Town a clean audit

Patricia de Lille (File, Netwerk24)
Patricia de Lille (File, Netwerk24)

The Auditor-General has downgraded the City of Cape Town’s audit findings from clean to unqualified.

For many years, Cape Town, the DA’s flagship government, has received clean audits.

But a source told City Press that the downgrade was because the Auditor-General found that mayor Patricia de Lille’s leadership had led to governance and leadership failures.

The news of a downgrade was confirmed by Portia Adams, DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s spokesperson, while responding to City Press’ questions about Maimane’s involvement in solving the city’s water crisis.

“The sad news that the Auditor-General has downgraded Cape Town’s clean audit status and listed a number of serious concerns involving the mayor is unacceptable for a DA government.

“It only serves to underscore how urgent and necessary Maimane’s intervention was,” said Adams yesterday.

De Lille was not available for comment and City Press’ calls and messages went unanswered by her office.

The Auditor-General’s report is yet to be presented or debated by the city council, but a source said this could happen on Wednesday.

The council is expected to debate a motion of no confidence in De Lille on the same day.

The motion was tabled last year by the ANC, which is having internal discussions to determine how to proceed with its own motion against De Lille.

Xolani Sotashe, chair of the ANC in the Cape metropole, said the party had to find a way to avoid being used by DA factions who are fighting to remove the mayor from power.

“When we tabled this motion last year, they played games,” said Sotashe.

“Now that they want De Lille gone, they say everything is okay with our motion. We won’t side with any DA faction.”

On Wednesday, Maimane launched the #DefeatDayZero campaign at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, Cape Town.

At the launch, Maimane announced that he had “taken the unprecedented step of taking political control of our respective government’s responses to the situation”.

This announcement had many questioning how a politician who does not hold a position in government can control its response to the crisis.

Maimane also announced the formation of a drought crisis team, which comprises Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, two of her MECs and deputy mayor Ian Neilson.

The DA has previously criticised the ANC for blurring the lines between the party and the state, which undermines the Constitution and several statutes.

Adams said that, while Maimane was “taking political control of the drought issue and has assembled a drought crisis team”, this does not mean he will encroach on operational management, as this was not his purview.

“However, the DA was elected on its manifesto commitments and Maimane holds DA governments to account for their performance against these commitments,” she said.

“He [Maimane] was not satisfied, and the urgency of the situation required extraordinary action.”

Two weeks ago, the Cape Town council amended the delegated powers to place the decision making on water and drought-related matters with Neilson and councillor Xanthea Limberg.

Adams said that, while De Lille’s office had been providing weekly briefings to Maimane on its response to the drought, it became clear that the integrity of the information being provided was questionable and the communication with the public were “wholly inadequate”.

“It also became clear that other DA colleagues in the city had been totally excluded from the drought response plan. There was a dangerous paucity of accurate information,” she said.

A source close to the DA told City Press that the key findings in the Auditor-General’s report involved failures of leadership at the first level of assurance – which includes the position of executive mayor – and the subsequent governance breakdown that resulted from them.

The report also noted that some findings related to security upgrades at De Lille’s home.

Meanwhile, the SA Human Rights Commission yesterday said that it was monitoring the unfolding water crisis in Cape Town and had received complaints from various individuals and organisations regarding the matter.

The commission also denied the allegations made by Maimane earlier in the week, saying that, “far from the situation which was reported following his press conference on Wednesday, the City does have a plan”.

The main part of the plan, which requires the cooperation of all residents and businesses, is to make the city’s current but fast dwindling water supply last for as long as possible.

Various reports predict that Cape Town will have to turn off the taps on April 12 if the city of 4 million people fails to drastically reduce water use immediately.

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