De Lille panel to rule on open hearing

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille holds a cartoon by Tony Grogan. She is to fight a clause which will allow the party leadership to remove her as Mayor of Cape Town, Image Donwald Pressly

The Democratic Alliance disciplinary hearing of Patricia de Lille will continue on Thursday after a day of discussions about technical issues. The Mayor of Cape Town said that the panel will announce whether her demand for an open hearing will be considered. This is expected on Thursday.

While De Lille said before the disciplinary that she would object to the presence of Sheila Camerer – a former deputy justice minister – as a panel member, she said the matter of any recusals would be raised at a later stage.

The first day of the hearing on Tuesday was devoted to the raising of “technical issues”, De Lille reported.

James Selfe, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance federal council, said the hearing was a disciplinary one. She was charged with contravening the federal constitution of the Democratic Alliance, specifically charges of misconduct.

Selfe said before the hearing that De Lille sarcastically alludes to ‘maar haastige hond verbrand sy mond’ (a quick dog burns his mouth). She had accused Camerer of being ‘a deputy minister of justice in apartheid South Africa’ and of not having practiced law in decades.

He said the facts were different: Camerer was also appointed Deputy Minister of Justice by President Nelson Mandela (after 1994). Camerer had served as a National Party deputy justice minister under President FW de Klerk before that.

Selfe said the disciplinary panel was appointed “in the normal course” from a group of individuals who make up the Federal Legal Commission of the DA. The same process is followed in all matters; this one being no different, he said.

Hans-Jurie Moolman, the chair, was a practicising attorney.  Pogiso Monchusi was a practising advocate.

There was no reasons to suggest that the panel members – including Camerer – were anything but totally independent and impartial. “Should Ms De Lille bring an application for any member of the panel to recuse themselves … it will have to be brought in the correct fashion before the correct forum and will have to be based on the applicable principles in law, not the subjective claptrap contained in her press statement,”said Selfe.   De Lille had issued a press statement on Sunday.

Selfe said the matter was between a member of the DA and the party. “It is of no interest to the general public and has nothing to do with her relationship with the City of Cape Town.”

Internal party disciplinary issues were not generally open to the public, since they focus on a contractual relationship, in which the public has no input or interest. It is, therefore, hard to imagine why this particular point is emphasised as being “a key consideration”, said Selfe.

To claim that the hearing could only be fair if in public “is of course devoid of any truth in law or fact”.

The hearing is expected to run on Thursday and Friday as well. The panel will then be tasked with writing its recommendations to the federal council. If the recommendations are negative for De Lille, she will be able to appeal.

Asked whether she would be acting to reshuffle her mayoral committee – as she remains Mayor of Cape Town – she was emphatic: “No; the mayoral committee is constituted in consultation with the federal council.” There would be no reshuffles.

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