Cape Town's deputy mayor Ian Neilson says he is the acting Mayor as Patricia de Lille has lost her seat on the city council by virtue of the governing party having terminated her membership.
In a statement Neilson, who has been deputy mayor since 2011, reported that the DA “has ceased the party membership of Patricia de Lille. This means she has lost her seat as a councillor and is therefore no longer the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, with immediate effect”.
“In terms of the Municipal Structures Act, when the post of Executive Mayor is vacant, the Executive Deputy Mayor, who is elected by (the) council, automatically holds all Mayoral authority until such time as a new Executive Mayor is elected by Council.”
“As Acting Executive Mayor, I hold all the authority of the Mayoral seat and am committed to continuing to serve the residents of Cape Town with uninterrupted service delivery. Having served as the Executive Deputy Mayor for the past nine years, having been a city councillor for 22 years and having been involved in the leadership of numerous administrations, I am fully apprised of the needs of the City and those we serve.”
Neilson confirmed that the mayoral committee – which was appointed by the former mayor De Lille – dissolves with immediate effect. “As it stands… only the Speaker (Dirk Smit) and I are political authorities in the City of Cape Town.”
Mayoral committee members were reported to be clearing their offices on Tuesday. Ten mayoral committee members must clear their offices: JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services; Brett Herron, transport and urban development; Xanthea Limberg, informal settlements, water and waste; Johannes van der Merwe, finance; Raelene Arendse, corporate services; Stuart Diamond, assets and facilities management, Anda Ntsodo, area-based oversight: East; Siyabulela Mamkeli, area-based oversight: Central; Eddie Andrews, area-based oversight: South; Suzette Little, area-based oversight: North.
Neilson said: “I will now apply my mind in the coming days to appointing an interim Mayoral Committee that will serve until council elects a new executive mayor.” A new permanent mayor must be appointed within three months.
It is not clear whether Neilson will be the candidate for the permanent mayoral position. There has been speculation that DA provincial leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, will be translated to the city to take over as mayor. If this is so, he would have to win the backing of the DA first – before he gives up his seat in the Western Cape legislature and becomes a councillor of the City of Cape Town.
Neilson, meanwhile, reported that the City Manager had informed the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) about the Council vacancy – the removal of De Lille as mayor and as a councillor. “We await due process to unfold and we will communicate further in due course.”
“In the meantime, we assure the residents of Cape Town that the administration of the City is secure and we remain committed to the work we do to deliver services across the City,” said Neilson.
De Lille said earlier on Tuesday that she intended to meet Neilson and the City Manager at her office at the civic centre. She would tell them that she was legally challenging her removal as a member of the DA – and thus as Mayor of Cape Town. Asked if there was still a mayor – herself – and an acting mayor, she said: “I don’t know.”