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UDM, ANC and smaller parties force adjournment of Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting

By Jesica Slabbert - Sep 21, 2017
UDM, ANC and smaller parties force adjournment of Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality council was forced to adjourn its meeting on Thursday without debating a single item on its agenda following a boycott by 60 of the opposition councillors.

At the start of council proceedings, at 10am, only 59 councillors from the Democratic Alliance (DA) were present forcing Council Speaker, Jonathan Lawack, to allow a 10-minute wait to allow for councillors to arrive.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, which has 120 council seats , needs at least 61 councillors to be present for a quorum.

It was during these 10 minutes, that Patriotic Alliance (PA) councillor, Marlon Daniels arrived.

Although, a seat was reserved for him as the MMC for Public Health, Daniels took a seat at the back of the room, next to a seat that was reserved for the since ousted Deputy Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani, who failed to pitch despite his assurances on Tuesday when the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) application to have him reinstated was thrown out of court.

Since there were only 60 council members present, the council had to adjourn.

“It is with regret that this council meeting couldn’t take place today because there is important business to be dealt with, and that is why we have a municipal council,” explained Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, while addressing journalists at City Hall after the adjournment.

“We anticipated that there might be no show at this council meeting by the ANC and the UDM because those are the discussions that have been going on. In fact an instruction was given yesterday by the ANC to its members not to ‘wake up’ this morning and go to council.”

Trollip said that a ruling in the Constitutional Court stated that councillors cannot stay away from council meetings for no good reason - if they do they would be met with consequences.

He explained that according to that ruling, if a councillor misses three consecutive council meetings without an excuse or apology, they could lose their position in council.

When questioned about the possibility of appointing a new Deputy Executive Mayor to replace Bobani, Trollip stated; “I do not have the unilateral right or power as the Executive Mayor to appoint the Deputy Mayor.

“It’s got to be done in conjunction with all of our coalition partners, and the opportunity to have that discussion has not happened yet.”

The African National Congress (ANC) and a few of the representatives from other parties, who boycotted the council meeting, also held a press briefing to give their reasons for not being in the council chambers.

The party said that they were protesting against council decisions not being adhered to with regards to in-sourcing workers, property rates and the eviction of people from their homes.

“We felt that if we don’t withdraw or boycott the council meeting today, the DA-led administration would be more arrogant,” said United Front (UF) councillor, Mkhuseli Mtsila.

The councillors stated that they do intend to return to council, and would make sure to put their issues on the agenda and have them heard and dealt with in council.

The next council meeting is yet to be decided.