City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has launched an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court in an effort to ensure that members of the DA caucus are free to vote according to their conscience in the upcoming motion of no confidence against her.
The party announced that its federal executive had authorised a motion of no confidence against De Lille that is scheduled for February 15.
In a statement on Thursday, De Lille said she demanded that it be done by secret ballot.
She also wanted to interdict the DA's federal and provincial office bearers from influencing or instructing members of the DA caucus on how to vote in the motion.
She said she did not wish to avoid facing the motion of no confidence, however, she wanted it to proceed in a constitutional and fair manner – "considering that I have not been treated fairly by the DA throughout this process".
De Lille said she was informed that chairperson of the federal executive James Selfe was of the opinion that in terms of the party's constitution – caucus members were bound by its decision to support the motion of no confidence, even those who did not vote for it.
Claims of political manipulation
"As far as secrecy is concerned, the rules of order regulating the conduct of meetings of the municipal council of the City of Cape Town do not allow for the speaker to rule that voting in a motion of no confidence can be done by secret ballot."
De Lille said councillors, ordinary party members and members of the public supported her.
She claimed that her supporters wished that councillors that represented them be given an opportunity to vote against the motion without fear of being sidelined in the party.
"Their [DA office bearers] behaviour until this juncture has proven that they will not hesitate to politically manipulate the caucus for their own factional gains," she said.
"The members of the caucus should also be free to exercise their right to choose how they want to vote. This court application seeks to empower all members of the caucus to claim their rights enshrined in the constitution."
She said the DA was determined to deprive its own caucus members of the right to vote with their conscience and by secret ballot.
Application 'puzzling at best, vexatious at worst'
"They can easily facilitate such a free and secret vote but refuse to do so. This has left me with no option but to go to court, as the DA had to do when the national Speaker refused to allow a secret vote regarding the motion of no confidence against [President Jacob] Zuma."
For months, De Lille has been the focus of several serious allegations and claims, many of which have been levelled at her by colleagues.
Selfe said in a statement that the party's legal team was dealing with De Lille's court application.
In as so far as the free vote is concerned, the DA is a party which respects and upholds the constitution.
He said the party had not instructed its councillors to vote in any particular way.
"In so far as the secret ballot is concerned, this is a decision to be taken by the council and not the DA. Their voting is done either by a show of hands, electronic voting or any other method decided by council.
"Therefore, the mayor's 'urgent' application is puzzling at best and vexatious at worst."
A date to hear the application was expected to be finalised on Friday.