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The Democratic Alliance has found itself in a dilemma to have Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille fired from her position. The DA had taken over the Cape Metro Municipality in 2005 with Current Western Cape Premier Helen Zille as Mayor. After De Lille’s party the Independent Democrats (ID) merged with the DA in 2009 and she took over DA leadership in Cape Town as Mayor. She retained a close relationship with Zille until the latter stepped down as DA leader in 2015. Zille’s successor Mmusi Maimane and his aides have said that De Lille failed to take on corruption in the municipal council.
“I’ve been fighting for a fair process and a due process, that is what my fight has been about all along,” the mayor, Patricia de Lille, told reporters in court after the judgement. The party appointed her through its control of the city council but later accused of turning a blind eye to corruption – a charge she denied. The party attempted to dismiss her in May but a court reinstated her pending hearing of her legal challenge. The DA argued she had forfeited her membership be indicating during a radio programme in April that she planned to quit the movement. But the judges on Wednesday said that decision that she had voided her membership was “unlawful and invalid”. It added that the party’s Federal Legal Commission – a body that staffs disciplinary panels – was “improperly constituted”.
De Lille has made it clear that her fight for legal processes to take its course would be in the DA’s best interests. Whether De Lille was rightly removed from office or not remains a question that should be answered. The DA should withdraw their dismissal as it is now invalid and the issue is sullying their party’s reputation. The DA is going into general elections next year against the African National Congress (ANC) and it may not be prudent for them to pursue a legal row within their own party which is creating divisions while preparing to go on the campaign trail. The pressure brought on by Maimane to fire De Lille on the grounds of corruption could put his party at risk of losing important election gains.
The DA should recheck their rules and ethics about when a member of the party should be expelled and they should allow the party to rethink its position.
Meanwhile President Cyril Ramaphosa undertook a working visit to Botswana to attend the 6th Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Summit in Gaborone, his office said on Wednesday.
The summit will take place on Friday. Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the SACU was oldest customs union in the world, comprising of South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and the Kingdom of Swaziland. “The SACU Summit of Heads and Government meets on an annual basis to discuss progress on the implementation of the agreed SACU Work Programme. This year’s Summit will also consider the progress made thus far by the Two Ministerial Task Teams on Trade and Industry as well as Finance, which were established in 2017 to facilitate the review of the 2002 SACU Agreement,” Diko said.
“The summit is also anticipated to provide a strategic direction on the region’s development integration agenda which aims to promote regional economic integration, industrialisation and economic diversification of SACU economies.”
The president will of course be encouraging the strengthening and expansion of SACU which is not mandatory on the whole of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). SACU is a stepping stone for Ramaphosa to see the implementation of the African Union’s African Free Trade Continental Agreement that would see the free flow of goods, services and peoples across the continent as well as the region. The Summit however is also where the they will most likely discuss the idea of expanding its membership. SACU had its roots in the colonial/apartheid era that is why it is not so popular with other SADC members. However, it will be interesting to see how industrialization, economic diversification etc. will be promoted in rather desolate nations, such as Namibia and Botswana.
The fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) that Ramaphosa has taken up will be promoted through the creation of solar and wind farms in these countries. We will soon see some new developments ahead.