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DA-led coalition government loses control of Nelson Mandela Bay Council in chaotic meeting

DA-led coalition government loses control of Nelson Mandela Bay Council in chaotic meeting
Gary van Niekerk has been elected new mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Lulama Zenzile)

In a chaotic council meeting on Friday, the Democratic Alliance’s Retief Odendaal was voted out as mayor of the biggest metro in the Eastern Cape. This brought one of the largest coalition governments –10 parties – to an end.

Nelson Mandela Bay got its third mayor in less than a year on Friday after the Northern Alliance’s Gary van Niekerk was voted to become executive mayor of the metro after the DA-led council lost a motion of no confidence.

Van Niekerk’s own party, the Northern Alliance, has been beset by internal problems and Van Niekerk was suspended by a breakaway group and recalled as a councillor. This parallel structure is headed by a sitting councillor, Bevan Brown, who in turn was suspended by Van Niekerk’s alliance and is currently in court trying to get his job back.

Former mayor Eugene Johnson – whose term was so chaotic that the ANC leadership in the province attempted to put an end to it using words like “lawlessness and chaos” in a letter addressed to the municipality – was elected speaker of the metro, and Babalwa Lobishe, the ANC regional chairperson, was elected deputy mayor. The motions of no confidence in the previous administration under the DA’s Retief Odendaal were brought by the EFF.

The Eastern Cape provincial government has been threatening to change the structure of the metro to facilitate replacing the executive mayoral system with a different system of governance – one that would have a ceremonial mayor, with the city run by an executive committee elected by the city council and with ward committees dealing with local matters. Representation on these committees would be similar to party representation in the council.

It remains to be seen what the province’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Zolile Williams’s next step will now be as he had suspended these plans after litigation by Odendaal.

There are 12 political parties with seats in the current Nelson Mandela Bay city council. The ANC and the DA received roughly the same number of votes (around 40%) in the November 2021 local government elections. The EFF holds eight seats.

The African Independent Congress (AIC), Northern Alliance and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) voted with the ANC and EFF on Friday.

‘Stability’

In his inaugural speech, Van Niekerk said he was hoping for political stability and an administration focused on the task at hand where residents would be of paramount importance. He said he wanted the municipality to implement alternatives to load shedding and also to focus on safety and security.

“It was out of pure frustration that I became involved in local politics when four boys were gunned down,” he said. He also promised to address service delivery backlogs. Van Niekerk said he and his coalition partners would soon devise a strategy for his term as mayor.

With Friday’s vote, the PAC, the Northern Alliance and the AIC broke their coalition agreement with the DA and its remaining partners – the Freedom Front Plus, UDM, ACDP, and Jack’s African Integrity Movement. 

Odendaal, who was a very popular mayor, received a hero’s welcome outside after he left the meeting.

“The removal of Executive Mayor, DA councillor Retief Odendaal, and his multi-party coalition government, has signalled a sad end to what has been one of the most positive and prosperous eight months in Nelson Mandela Bay in the last three decades,” the DA said following the council meeting.

The party referred to Van Niekerk as a “puppet mayor” and a “Judas” installed by the ANC and the EFF.

“The ANC and EFF will now have unlimited access to the city’s R18-billion budget and the ‘Judas’ Mayor Van Niekerk will dance to their tune, all for the sake of a shiny mayoral chain and a large salary,” the party said.

“The multi-party coalition managed to fix more than 20,000 potholes, 15,000 water leaks, 13,000 streetlights, approved 150 town planning amendments, and created nearly 5,000 EPWP [Expanded Public Works Programme] job opportunities – to name but a few. 

“Despite all of this progress, Van Niekerk’s greed and lust for prestige, has led to him selling the people of Nelson Mandela Bay out for thirty pieces of silver,” it said. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • James Lang says:

    Absolute travesty; the city was at last starting to function; a bunch of thieves and gangsters banded together to remove Odendaal all for self gain; shame on them. As usual, it will be the very folk they purport to represent, that will suffer the most.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Oh jeez, even more economic refugees heading for Khayelitsha! And more crapping on the DA for not rolling out the red carpet for them paid for by our rates and taxes.

  • Jacques Wessels says:

    The politicians have only one objective, the pay at the end of the month not just in ZA across the world. People of Nelson Mandela Bay stand up from being subjects to a host of corrupt incapable thieves and form apolitical organisations eg Rates Payers, Neighbourhood Watches and hold yourself first then the powers who ever they may be to account failing vote them out

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    A kindergarten playing the chair game, only that it’s not the one missing the chair who goes out, they simply pull the chair away under the chosen “go away” guy.

  • Steve Stevens says:

    The only solution is to introduce fixed terms (of at least three years) and binding agreements for coalitions following local elections.

  • L Dennis says:

    I pray for our beautiful country. There is no peace for the evil doers. When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. Evil doers shall be cut off.

  • John Smythe says:

    This is not only for money. They don’t want the DA to succeed because they’re far more superior performers than the ANC is or ever will be. And superior performers makes the ANC seem even more useless. They can’t have that in 2024.

  • David Pennington says:

    This is the reason that natives were called boys and girls in colonial days

  • danielboegli5 says:

    Wouldn’t happen in a real democracy where the people in charge are elected by the voters

  • Riel Meynhardt says:

    The “new mayor” should be tied to a lamp post so that the voters, who voted against the ANC and EFF by supporting his party, can come and throw rotten eggs and tomatoes at him for stealing their votes and betraying their trust.

  • Peter Worman says:

    And at the end of the day, it’s the poor who suffer most. Those competent to rule and lead the metro forward either emigrate or move elsewhere.

  • Dhasagan Pillay says:

    Is this the harbinger of a test case for the AG’s shiny new teeth?
    Or will the new council surprise citizens and cynics at the metro’s next audit?
    Future articles will tell.

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