Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has won a momentous vote of confidence by just one vote. She defeated the no-confidence vote by 110 votes to 109. There were three abstentions. The vote throws the Democratic Alliance government in Cape Town in a deep political conundrum.
The African National Congress caucus opposed the motion of no confidence. When the result was announced just before 1 pm, the opposition ANC councillors jumped up and sang and danced. The Democratic Alliance, the ruling party, had tabled the motion of no confidence in its own mayor, which was defeated.
Speaking after the vote in her mayoral chambers, De Lille said she had packed up some of her personal possessions believing that she would lose her job. “I am so glad it is over… I have been through months of threats, months of mud being thrown at me from different angles… I have always known that the truth would always survive.”
The mayor said that she had been informed that 46 Democratic Alliance councillors backed her in the vote – meaning they voted against the vote of no confidence. That means 64 opposition councillors – including the Economic Freedom Fighters seven councillors – voted for her. De Lille said all the opposition councillors had supported her.
(Figures from the Speaker's office indicate that the actual figure was lower, at 39. Two councillors from the DA caucus did not vote. Altogether 107 DA councillors voted against the mayor, signalling that she had lost the support of her own caucus but gained the support of most of the opposition. The latter figure represented 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. When the vote took place, two councillors opposition parties voted against the mayor - from the Freedom Front and the CMC. 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.)
De Lille was not in the chamber at the time of the vote because she objected to the Speaker Dirk Smit’s ruling that the vote would not be secret.
It is not clear how the City of Cape Town will be administered from a political perspective in future. De Lille may have to cobble together a coalition with some opposition parties. However, she may choose to keep her internal DA opponents on board on the mayoral committee. In the interview with her afterwards, she appeared to be leaning towards the latter option.
However, the DA will most likely continue its investigations into corruption and other charges against Mayor de Lille.
If the mayor had not left the chamber before the vote, she would have helped to defeat the motion of no confidence by two votes, instead of the one.
Wearing her chain of office as she came out to greet the media in the mayoral chambers, De Lille was asked by The Cape Messenger whether she would be keeping her mayoral committee intact. Would she be excising the committee of “dissident forces”, she was asked. “I am not a vindictive person. We are stronger when we are together. Let bygones be bygones. We do have to sit down. I have always suggested a process of mediation. It is water under the bridge now.”
Referring to the DA leadership, including DA leader Mmusi Maimane, whom she acknowledged had said some acerbic things about her, she said. “If people feel aggrieved… let us bring in a mediator… Let us follow a process like that… so we can focus on what we have been elected to do… to look after the poorest in our city.”
Asked about former Mayor Peter Marais’s views that she had smashed a “white liberal cabal” which was controlling the DA. “I have made my own allegations about that… I do think people accept it doesn’t mean that (if you have) been (a member) longer in the party… before the DA opened up for people of colour… that they have the divine right to rule and that people of colour are visitors… I hope… we are pleading for …respect. If you respect us, we will respect you.”
There was a stop to the arrogance displayed by this group of “wanting to be in charge of everything”.
After Thursday’s vote, she said another chapter had opened in the city. “This is now another leaf… another chapter we are going to start. I am committed to making sure we unite the party and we continue to deliver services to the people of Cape Town.”
Asked if she could patch up differences with the party leader, Mmusi Maimane. “You are right the leader did say many things about me… because I have never been afforded an opportunity… to test those untested allegations… I believe in talking.”
“I am taking one day at a time… see what the future holds,” she said.
“When I walked out of the council… I felt so battered… what has happened over the past six months… that was the last straw, with the Speaker taking instructions from the DA (over the secret vote). I was really feeling… I can’t do this anymore.”
Asked if she would have taken away the picture of Mmusi Maimane and De Lille on the wall, she said: “It is still on the wall.” She had planned to take away personal possessions. But her packing up had been interrupted by the news that she had won – by the narrowest of margins, just one vote.