De Lille resignation: Charges dropped. What now?
After almost a year of public infighting, Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille and the DA have reached an agreement that will see her both resign as mayor and have all internal charges against her dropped.
De Lille and DA leader Mmusi Maimane held a press briefing on Sunday to announce a U-turn on the prior decision that De Lille would be called before an open disciplinary process.
Rather, the mayor has submitted her resignation effective from October 31, and in exchange the party will withdraw all internal charges against her.
So, what about all those allegations that were broadcast in public for almost a year?
Both Maimane and De Lille failed to answer a question during the formal press briefing on what the agreement means for any unanswered questions citizens may have.
Speaking to journalists afterwards before making his exit, Maimane said the party will wait for the outcomes of a City of Cape Town investigation into alleged mismanagement, which is a separate process.
A second round of council investigations into alleged mismanagement in the city, conducted by law firm Bowman Gilfillan, was still ongoing, he said.
When asked if the party had been worried about the internal charges against De Lille being tackled in a public hearing, he said: "No, I think what was important is that we had nothing to hide.
"That's why we were able to communicate it. We never shied away from putting these allegations forward, and that there be absolute transparency and accountability. So we have nothing to hide."
During the briefing, Maimane said the party was obliged to consider all allegations levelled against De Lille.
"It is never easy to take action against one of your own. But I am confident that, throughout this painful period, we have acted in the best interests of the citizens we serve.
The agreement was therefore an opportunity to "close a difficult chapter in our history and to open a new one".
'I won't run away'
De Lille said during the briefing that she considered her name cleared following the withdrawal of the internal charges, and she could now move on with her life.
"Whilst I have been fighting for my rights to prove my innocence, and although I was ready to proceed with the disciplinary hearing, I also realise that this fight between myself and the DA cannot continue forever."
She hinted afterwards that the internal charges against her have always been about whether any hard evidence would be placed before her.
"I've always been willing to subject myself to a disciplinary hearing, because I felt the people of Cape Town deserved to get answers. I was still prepared to do it," she told News24 after the briefing.
"But I've always had to ask for the evidence to back up these charges so that they can be tested. I had to turn to the courts to get that.
"All of that is now behind us because the charges have been withdrawn."
As for the first council investigation into alleged mismanagement in the city released in January, De Lille said: "The council investigation is against various people, and there's only one investigation against me, and it's alleged that I instructed the then city manager not to put one of the issues before council.
"That's all. The rest I'm not accountable for."
She said the second independent probe must continue.
"If there's a recommendation that I must be disciplined, I again will be prepared to subject myself to disciplinary procedures. I won't run away."
What now for the city?
De Lille will continue to serve in her capacity as mayor for the next three months until October 31, and will remain a member of the party.
She has not decided what lies ahead for her from November onwards, and couldn't say whether she would stay on as a normal councillor, but was open to helping with a transition of power.
De Lille remained committed to investing whatever little time she had left to complete the project of "building a better city" and contributing towards the transformation of Cape Town.
Included in this was continuing the city's housing project and dealing with the issue of land in the urban areas. General city business will continue as usual.
Maimane said during the briefing that there is a process that unfolds when electing a new mayor, and that will be respected.
Candidates will be put forward and interviewed ahead of the proposed November 1 start-date, he said.
"This has been a long and difficult journey. This matter has already gone on for too long, and has sapped the energies and attentions of both parties from our core work, for which we apologise," Maimane said.
"We were both desirous of finding a mutually agreeable resolution, and we have now done so. I am confident that this outcome is in the best interests of the people of Cape Town."
He also said he was pleased that the deal allows De Lille to remain a member of the DA, and he had always had respect for her calibre and her record in the city.
ANC not pleased
The ANC Cape Town caucus meanwhile said it noted the "illicit arrangement" between De Lille and the DA that "opens a backdoor for a different mayor other than the one the people of Cape Town voted for".
"As the ANC, our views remain the same. We still want to see that allegations of corruption on various issues against De Lille are probed and tested in an open and credible process," ANC caucus leader Xolani Sotashe said.
"We equally want other broader corruption allegations, including the water desalination that the DA may have procured from the Israelis on a promised windfall of bribes and other quid pro quo arrangements to be probed.
"We are extremely concerned that employment equity and bringing up of black owned businesses will now be under attack even more under the De Lille - DA agreement."
De Lille responded to their statement, saying the ANC was entitled to its opinion.
"They can say whatever they want to say, but this is an arrangement between myself as a person and the Democratic Alliance, and we just ask for people to respect that."
Maimane has previously dismissed the ANC's water procurement allegations as nonsense.