May 16, 2018 / 12:37 PM / 5 days ago

Cape Town mayor returns to work in headache for South African opposition party

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has returned to work after a South African court ruled that her removal from office by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party should be temporarily suspended.

FILE PHOTO: Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille speaks during the C40 Cities Women4Climate event in New York City, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The DA’s bitter dispute with de Lille, whom it appointed as mayor through its control of the city council but now accuses of turning a blind eye to corruption, has tarnished its reputation ahead of elections next year in which it aims to challenge the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

De Lille, who denies wrongdoing and has vowed to clear her name, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that she was “back at work for the sake of the people of Cape Town”.

On Tuesday the High Court in the Western Cape said de Lille should remain as mayor until a further hearing on May 25, a decision the DA called “unfortunate”.

“De Lille continues to put her individual interests above those of the citizens of Cape Town by using legal technicalities to cling on to power,” Natasha Mazzone, deputy chairperson of the DA’s Federal Council, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.

The DA, which promotes itself as an alternative to the ANC, elected its first black leader three years ago to widen its appeal among voters, and improved its national credentials by winning control of three major cities in 2016.

However it now faces a resurgent ruling party under new President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vowed to root out corruption and boost economic growth since the ANC named him to replace scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma.

Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Catherine Evans

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