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DA ‘in turmoil’ as De Lille might not resign as mayor after all

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The DA could be facing more political turmoil over the resignation of Patricia de Lille as Cape Town mayor, Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday.

According to the online publication, De Lille might not resign at the end of this month, as was announced in August.

At the centre of the turmoil are two contradictory reports by law firm Bowman Gilfillan. In one report into corruption and maladministration in the City of Cape Town, De Lille is reportedly found to be complicit in irregularities. The second report, however, absolves De Lille completely, according to Netwerk24.

The reports – set to be tabled in the council on Thursday – have been leaked, much to the annoyance of Western Cape speaker Dirk Smit, who has reportedly launched an investigation.

The Cape Argus reported on Wednesday that “several high-placed sources” had informed the newspaper that they were aware of De Lille’s intention not to leave office on October 31.

According to that publication, De Lille’s closest confidant, Rodney Lentit, said he had advised her not to resign and that she had agreed to it.

He reportedly said a press briefing would be held on Wednesday. A senior DA source reportedly said he was aware of De Lille’s plan not to resign.

“If she does not want to resign, she will be removed by a motion of no confidence and all other charges and disciplinary action against her will be re-instituted,” the source told the Cape Argus.

In the first report, it was found that De Lille had tried to “influence and persuade” former City manager Achmat Ebrahim not to report allegations of “serious misconduct” to the city council, News24 reported on Monday.

The 2 000-page Bowman Gilfillan report recommended that disciplinary action be taken against De Lille, mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron and suspended transport and urban development authority commissioner Melissa Whitehead, EWN and Timeslive reported.

The report could see new charges being brought against De Lille and other officials.

This after the party agreed to withdraw internal charges against De Lille in August, when she announced her intended resignation.

A section of the report, seen by News24, found that De Lille repeatedly said allegations of “irregular spending” of up to R40m in the MyCiTi Volvo contract and the Foreshore freeway development programme were “going nowhere”.

De Lille believed that a previous report into Whitehead’s partiality on the Foreshore freeway bid committee only raised “concerns”. No complaint of misconduct was laid and it was therefore not necessary to report it to council, the report found.

De Lille also believed that Whitehead’s involvement in the controversial Volvo tender did not need to be reported to council because the decision to accept incomplete buses was made to ensure that the City’s capital budget was spent.

The fully completed buses were later supplied to the City when industrial action at Volvo, which caused a delay, cleared, she said.

“If so, it may, strictly speaking, have been ‘irregular’ in that it was not permitted by the contract. But it was not immoral, corrupt, criminal or mala fide. The City suffered no loss and received value for money,” De Lille told Bowman Gilfillan.

She expressed a concern that if all allegations of misconduct were referred to the council, City employees could use it as a political tool to influence their managers.

De Lille reiterated that she never barred Ebrahim from referring the matters to the council.

Ebrahim told Bowman Gilfillan that he believed that the report on the allegations of misconduct against Whitehead should be approved by De Lille before it was sent to council.

“If a report is not signed and tabled by the executive mayor, it does not go to council,” Ebrahim was quoted saying to Bowman Gilfillan.

He said he previously sent documents to the council on his own, but this changed when De Lille was mayor.

This, despite the City’s own disciplinary regulations requiring the city manager to report all allegations of misconduct to the city council to consider and investigate.

In two separate emails quoted in the report, Ebrahim was, however, seen to be alerted by his own senior managers to his obligation to report the allegations to council.

Ebrahim tendered his resignation on January 10.

Bowman Gilfillan cleared De Lille from allegations that she barred Ebrahim from ever referring the allegations to the council.

The law firm, however, found that the City’s disciplinary regulations did not allow a preliminary vetting process and De Lille could therefore not decide to withhold allegations of misconduct from the council.

“Moreover, the power to determine whether an allegation of misconduct is serious or less serious misconduct or whether there is no evidence to support the allegation of misconduct (and thus to dismiss the matter) lies with the municipal council only and not with the executive mayor or the city manager,” the report reads.

De Lille told News24 that she would release a statement once she studied the report and consulted her lawyers.

The City of Cape Town said it was premature to comment on the report because it had not yet been tabled in the council.

City of Cape Town speaker Smit said he could not discuss the content of the “confidential report”.

News24 understands that councillors each received a password-encrypted copy of the report on a USB device, making it impossible for them to distribute copies of the report.

According to IOL, De Lille was on a plane from the UK to Cape Town and could not comment.

[Source: News24]
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