Leadership in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality remained in dispute on Tuesday with the DA announcing it would go to the High Court to challenge Monday’s successful no confidence motion against executive mayor Athol Trollip and the election of a new council speaker.
Speaking to the media in Cape Town on Tuesday morning, Trollip and DA leader Mmusi Maimane said municipal laws were flouted during Monday’s council sitting. They believed Trollip remained executive mayor.
“What took place yesterday can only be described as a sham, as a mockery and as an insult to the voters,” said Maimane.
Nelson Mandela Bay speaker Jonathan Lawack was removed during the sitting after DA councillor Mbulelo Manyati abstained during a motion of no confidence, giving the ANC, EFF, UDM and other smaller parties the edge they needed to replace the DA.
City manager Johann Mettler subsequently acted as speaker but agreed to the DA’s position that it could immediately terminate Manyati’s membership, creating a vacancy in the council, meaning the sitting would fail to quorate once the DA left, which they did.
The DA plans to challenge what happens next. The law allows for provincial government to deploy an official to preside over the election of a new speaker if the city manager is unavailable. Eastern Cape Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC deployed an official who held the election of the speaker, who then presided over the no confidence motions and the election of the UDM’s Mongameli Bobani as mayor.
“The crucial emphasis here is that if the municipal manager is not available (the MEC can deploy an official),” said Maimane. “It is our contention that if he was available to chair the meeting he would have presided over it and we would have proceeded on that basis.”
“What was clear is that the process that moved on from that point on will not pass legal muster in our view,” Maimane continued.
Trollip, who was in Cape Town for a DA national management forum meeting about the events, said: “They collaborated to get rid of us but their contrivance, we believe was unlawful, and we’re going to challenge that. We’re going to challenge it in the courts because we believe that the MEC undermined or overrode the city manager and we believe he overreached.”
The DA claimed the ANC, EFF and UDM wanted to take over the city to facilitate corruption and looting ahead of the 2019 elections.
Trollip also claimed Manyati, the DA councillor who turned against his party, had been offered financial inducements from ANC members. Manyati currently faces criminal charges of fraud.
Bobani and his new mayoral committee briefed the media at city hall alongside Mettler, who didn’t comment. They said they planned to move into their offices on Tuesday and would prioritise finding consensus between the different political parties involved.
The ANC’s Andile Lungisa said the DA’s court challenge will fail. “If you do not elect (a speaker) you must communicate with the MEC. The MEC must send officials. We are very clear, we had two options, either we elect or you call the MEC,” he said.
“This leadership was elected because (the DA) failed to read the mood even of their own councillors,” he continued. Lungisa is on bail pending his application for leave to appeal an assault conviction.
He has already been appointed the city’s infrastructure MMC. The majority of Bobani’s mayoral committee members are from the ANC.
In Johannesburg, the EFF’s Julius Malema hammered the DA and said the party would support the motion of no confidence against the DA’s Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga on Thursday. Malema said the DA should accept the Nelson Mandela Bay outcome and challenge it in court rather than cause confusion by claiming that Trollip remains mayor.
“Why can’t they humble themselves and subject themselves to the process because they have got a recourse, they can go to court and the court can make a pronouncement?” he asked.
“All of a sudden, DA has become so extremely stupid. They don’t even know how the court processes works. They are in a shocked state,” Malema continued.
“We shouldn’t allow anarchy even when it is done by white people in the DA.”
The EFF leader said claims that they gave the city to the ANC were “absolute nonsense” as they supported the election of a mayor from the UDM.
“Whoever Bobani appoints in his executive is his call.”DM