Back to square one? DA demands UDM takes action against Bobani following drama at Council

MAY 23, 2017
Back to square one? DA demands UDM takes action against Bobani following drama at Council

Just a day after the leaders of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) agreed to mend the broken relationship between Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and his Deputy, Mongameli Bobani, things again got out of control.

It all started when opposition parties could not agree on several items on the agenda of the Council Meeting with councillors accusing Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Speaker, Jonathan Lawack, of abusing his power.

The Speaker later asked African National Congress (ANC) Councillor, Siphiwo Plaatjies, to leave the chamber after apparently interrupting the business of the day. For some time, Plaatjies refused to leave.

Moments later, Bobani also joined councillors in condemning Lawack for the apparent abuse of power. In turn, Lawack also asked Bobani to leave the Council Meeting.

Bobani refused - reminding Lawack that he was the Deputy Mayor.

The meeting had to be adjourned to allow the party chief whips to discuss how to enforce discipline within their ranks.

Truce?

On Monday, following days of heightened tensions at City Hall after Trollip finally indicated he wanted to get rid of Bobani, the parties to the DA-led coalition met to diffuse the situation.

Bobani is Deputy Mayor through a coalition agreement signed between the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) and other smaller parties to effectively oust the African National Congress (ANC) after the DA, represented by Trollip, failed to get an outright win of the Metro in last year's Local Government Elections.

While they publicly denied it for months, there had been rumours of growing disharmony between Trollip and Bobani.

There had been apparent disagreements between Trollip and Bobani, chief among them being the fate of Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler.

The rumours were confirmed in recent weeks when the two began to make public allegations and counter-allegations leading to last week Tuesday when Trollip announced that he had fired Bobani from the Health Directorate and said he would seek his removal at council.

According to a joint statement released by the DA and the UDM, all parties to the coalition affirmed a commitment to the continuance of the coalition, "and the coalition remains intact".

"The parties recommitted to govern in the best interests of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, putting the people first and ensuring government is stable," read the statement.

Protesters demand Trollip's head 

While drama unfolded in the Council Chambers, a group of UDM supporters protested outside and called for Mayor Trollip to fired instead of Bobani.

The protesters, mostly residents of Helenvale and other northern areas suburbs, said Trollip had neglected them in terms of service delivery as well as in dealing with gangsterism, housing and job opportunities.

VIDEO: UDM supporters protest against removal of Bobani, want Mayor Trollip removed instead

DA condemns Bobani's actions  

In a statement on Tuesday, the DA condemned "in the strongest terms" Bobani for the disruptions at a Nelson Mandela Bay Council Meeting.

"His actions are completely unacceptable and are against the very spirit of our coalition agreement, and the discussions we held last night to resolve the conflict in Nelson Mandela Bay," said DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.

"It has become clear that Councillor Bobani is not committed to governing for the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, and instead seeks to continue his disruptive and divisive behaviour which is unbecoming of a Deputy Mayor.

"In almost every way possible, Cllr Bobani has acted to undermine the coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay, and his behaviour today requires that stern action must be taken against him."

Maimane said that as the DA, their first responsibility is to the voters of Nelson Mandela Bay, "and we must protect the coalition government’s ability to deliver quality services to residents".

"We cannot allow one man to hold the people of Nelson Mandela Bay to ransom," he said.

"We therefore insist the United Democratic Movement (UDM) take urgent and immediate action against Cllr Bobani, and that this matter be resolved so that the Council meeting can reconvene and get on with the business of delivering services to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay," Maimane said.