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De Lille v Democratic Alliance and Others (7882/18) [2018] ZAWCHC 81

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De Lille v Democratic Alliance and Others (7882/18) [2018] ZAWCHC 81

27th June 2018

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Click here to read the full judgment on Saflii

[1] The Democratic Alliance (“DA”) is the current governing political party in the Western Cape. It controls the City of Cape Town (“the City”) as it holds the majority seats in its Council (“the Council”). The Applicant, Ms Patricia De Lille (“De Lille”) was a member of the DA and the City’s Executive Mayor. On 8 May 2018 Mr James Selfe (“Selfe”), a senior functionary in the DA, forwarded a letter to the City’s Municipal Manager informing him that De Lille’s membership of the party had ceased with immediate effect and that the Independent Electoral Commission (“IEC”) should be advised accordingly. On the same day the Speaker of Council forwarded a letter to De Lille notifying her that she was to vacate her office as Executive Mayor with immediate effect.

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[2] The DA relied on the provisions of clause 3.5.1.2[1] of its constitution (“the cessation clause”) for its notification of the termination of De Lille’s membership. As a matter of law, her alleged loss of membership of the party had a number of important ‘knock-on’ consequences. To name a few:  firstly, in terms[2] of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act[3] (“the Structures Act”) De Lille automatically lost her position as Executive Mayor; secondly, the loss of her mayoral office resulted in a vacancy in Council which required the Speaker and the City Manager to take steps to inform the IEC thereof in order that the necessary democratic process could be put in place to install a replacement Councillor to represent the DA; thirdly, the members of her Mayoral Committee (“Mayco”) automatically lost their positions;[4] fourthly, the Deputy Mayor assumed the position of Executive Mayor ex lege [5] in an acting capacity until a new Mayor was duly elected; and fifthly, as acting Executive Mayor he/she was required to appoint a new Mayco.[6]

[3] The notification that De Lille should immediately vacate her position as Executive Mayor prompted her to launch the instant application as a matter of urgency. She sought an interim order suspending the effect of the aforesaid notification and restoring her to the position she occupied at the time, pending the outcome of a review of the termination of her membership.

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