‘Mean and greedy’ – Athol Trollip on the ANC and ‘chaos’ in Nelson Mandela Bay

‘Mean and greedy’ – Athol Trollip on the ANC and ‘chaos’ in Nelson Mandela Bay
Athol Trollip says the arrest of three former DA councillors for allegedly taking R100,000 each to vote him out in 2018 is probably revealed just the tip of the iceberg of what was happening in the Nelson Mandela Bay council. (Photo: Lulama Zenzile Gallo Images / Netwerk24)

The corruption charges against eight people, including three former DA councillors who had allegedly taken bribes to oust their party’s Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, seem to confirm dirty tricks.

Former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip, now the Eastern Cape chairperson of ActionSA, believes the Hawks have uncovered just the tip of the iceberg of corruption in the metro.  

Last week, three former DA councillors, who have since joined the Defenders of the People, were arrested for allegedly taking R100,000 each to vote Trollip out in 2018.

This week, Trollip said the arrests were very welcome, but they probably revealed just the tip of the iceberg of what was happening in the Nelson Mandela Bay council.

He said this was probably only one of many incidents involving councillors.

“I believe fully that the charges and allegations [as set out in the charge sheet before the court] are true.

“But those councillors didn’t do what they did for a measly R100,000. For them that would amount to giving up three years’ salary for what amounts to three months of salaries as councillors,” Trollip said.

He recounted how, during a period in 2018 when there was political upheaval in the council, he had spent hours talking to the three councillors, Neville Higgins, Victor Manyathi and Trevor Louw. “We had a stable four-party government at the time. It was a majority coalition,” he explained.  

‘Snouts in the trough’

In 2018, Trollip was the DA’s executive mayor in Nelson Mandela Bay. That was until the DA speaker, Jonathan Lawack, was voted out of office in August that year after weeks of political drama. In a shock move, Manyathi did not join his DA colleagues in defending Lawack, who was then ousted. The meeting culminated in Trollip being voted out.

Louw, Higgins and Manyathi also defied party instructions not to attend later council meetings that led to several decisions, including the suspension of city manager Johann Mettler in September 2018. “It was clear to me that they had made up their minds [to defy the DA],” said Trollip.

“Since then there has only been chaos in Nelson Mandela Bay. The ANC forced themselves on the voters. The electorate needs to understand that the ANC can only promise self-service.

“The ANC seems to have money for these deals but not to pay their staff salaries,” he added. “They are mean and greedy. They must get their snouts back in the trough by any means possible.”

The three have been charged along with the ANC’s regional secretary, Luyolo Nqakula.They appeared in court on 30 September and were released on bail of R5,000 each after spending a night in police cells.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Nelson Mandela Bay ex-DA councillors had a ‘corrupt relationship’ with ANC

The money used for the alleged payoffs – which only occurred in 2020 – was allegedly sourced from a contractor, HT Pelatona Projects. It won a R24.6-million tender to provide toilets in informal settlements during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

According to the charge sheet, the money used for these payments – R300,000 – was allegedly paid to Thuthiko Logistics by Pelatona and then laundered through the accounts of Nelson Mandela Bay businessperson Xolani Masela, his wife, Nwabisa Masela, and her mother, Nonpumezo Florence Ngotsha, in transactions that all occurred in 2020.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Current acting city manager Noxolo Nqwazi and then housing delivery director of the department of human settlements Mvuleni Norman Mapu have been charged with irregularly awarding the toilet tender at a time when emergency procurement was allowed because of the state of disaster announced after the outbreak of the pandemic.

Nqakula is accused of “offering to give, and giving, gratifications to the three men”.

According to documents before court, the toilet tender was awarded as part of a plan to de-densify shack settlements. Two thousand households had been identified for relocation to serviced sites and supplied with chemical toilets that would later be replaced by permanent ones. The contract was for the latter.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Nelson Mandela Bay’s new coalition government sets out priorities for ‘broken metro’, prepares for a battle

It is alleged that Nqwazi and Mapu had used their positions to influence the process and ensure that HT Pelatona Projects was appointed.

According to the charge sheet, they “colluded to create a trail of decision-making that had the official municipal records reflect that they justified the need for a deviation”.

A municipal official was later instructed to keep two other quotations that were more expensive than HT Pelatona Projects’ on file. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.


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