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Trollip and Lawack survive motions to remove them, Deputy Mayor position declared redundant

By Afikile Lugunya - Dec 1, 2017
Trollip and Lawack survive motions to remove them, Deputy Mayor position declared redundant

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and Council Speaker, Jonathan Lawack, both on Thursday survived motions of no confidence brought against them in a marathon Council Meeting that began in morning and ended late in the night.

The meeting was characterised by delays as Councillors resorted to name-calling and mudslinging even before the matters on the agenda could be discussed.

The motion of no confidence in Trollip was brought up by Patriotic Alliance Councillor, Marlon Daniels, who was seconded by the United Democratic Movement's (UDM), Mongameli Bobani, who also submitted a motion of no confidence in Lawack.

Daniels is the one, who in August tabled a motion of no confidence in Bobani, leading to Bobani's ouster as the Deputy Mayor.

The Patriotic Alliance was admitted into the DA-led coalition days later and Daniels took over Bobani's previous portfolio as Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality MMC for Public Health before falling out with Trollip.

It later emerged that the PA had apparently been promised the Deputy Mayor position and after opposition parties that included the UDM and the African National Congress (ANC) boycotted the Council Meeting that would debate the matter in September, the Patriotic Alliance announced that it was leaving the DA-led coalition. The DA called it a non-event.

Trollip subsequently took over the Public Health portfolio.

Writing to DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, Daniels claimed that the PA, like the DA and other opposition parties, is determined not to bring the ANC back in power in the Metro, but he claims that Trollip is misleading the municipality and often makes unilateral decisions.

In turn, Bobani proposed that Council Speaker, Lawack, also be removed accusing him of being biased to the DA, his party, when chairing Council meetings.

Fall out

Until recently, the UDM and the DA, were coalition partners. After failing to get an outright win in the 2016 Local Government Elections, the DA entered into coalition agreements with the Congress of the People‚ the United Democratic Movement‚ the African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus, with goal of ensuring it had enough numbers to keep the defeated ANC at bay in Council. 

However, while they publicly denied it for months, there had been rumours of growing disharmony between Trollip and Bobani. Apparently, there were disagreements between Trollip and Bobani over governance and staff appointments -  chief among them being the fate of Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler.

The rumours were confirmed when the two began to make public allegations and counter-allegations leading to a point when Trollip announced that he had fired Bobani from the Health Directorate and said he would seek his removal as Deputy Mayor at council.

UDM leader, Bantu Holomisa, responded by telling Trollip to swallow his pride as Bobani was going nowhere yet.

Bobani also denied all allegations levelled at him.

After Daniels apparently helped get rid of Bobani, Holomisa, who was fighting for the reinstatement of Bobani, said at the time that the DA had won over the PA with a mayoral committee seat and in exchange, the PA did the DA's dirty work.

The UDM failed to get Bobani reinstated through the courts after the UDM's application was thrown out.

Motion of no confidence debate

Going  into Thursday's Council Meeting, the DA-led coalition had 59 seats in the 120 seat Council. The DA has 57 seats, while COPE and the African Christian Democratic Party have one seat each.

On the one hand, the ANC had lent its 50 seats to the minority parties, who intended to vote with them - the Patriotic Alliance, United Front, African Independent Congress, and UDM, add a total of five seats.

The deciding votes then rested with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which has six seats.

Until Thursday morning, it was anyone's guess as to whom the EFF would vote with. Early this year, EFF leader, Julius Malema, warned the DA and Trollip that they would withdraw support from coalitions in the Metro's if the DA continued with its "bullying" behavior.

However, it was also unthinkable that the EFF would vote with ANC, given the history between the two parties.

"The EFF will not support any of the opportunist motions of no confidence brought by the ANC in the Metros," later announced EFF Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu, in a Tweet.

"Any rational and sensible South Africa will know that of all devils, the ANC in its present form is not an option &can’t be trusted with political power. They must go jump!"

Before the council sitting, a number of DA supporters gathered in front of the City Hall in Port Elizabeth to show their support for Trollip. While addressing them, Trollip accused the UDM of committing "adultery" after turning on the DA.

“But there are those that wanted to commit adultery, sleep with the ANC while they claim that they are only sleeping with the DA.

“They wanted to sleep with us and with the ANC and we did not allow that, so to the United Democratic Movement that chose to bring these motions against this government, has being voting against this government all year we only gave them eleven months,” Trollip said.

He said he should remain as Mayor as in four years’ time, the city will be unrecognisable.

“In four years’ time, you won’t be able to recognise the city I promise you. For those of you that have got eyes to see, I’m sure that you see that there is change in the city and only those that don’t want to see will see that things are not different,” he added.

He concluded by thanking their coalition partners; “thank you very much for being stand fast, for being loyal, for being professional and for having integrity and being honest those that are with us.”

Speaking for the EFF, Yazini Tetyana, the party's provisional co-ordinator said, “the EFF has a position that we intended to keep, which is to support the DA and Trollip in the motion that was raised".

“We took the decision in 2016 that we are going to support the DA against the African National Congress and we have never change that. It is ironic that two smaller organisations want to dictate what is going on in the council and we cannot be dictated to by the Patriotic Alliance.

“They are just people, who are interested in positions, and the EFF took the decision that we will not vote with anything that has to do with ANC so we are sticking to that decision and it will not change,” Tetyana said.

In the end, when the voting began, Trollip survived the motion of no confidence against him as 65 votes said he should stay against 54 that wanted him gone. It became obvious that the EFF had voted with the DA-led coalition. The opposition camp was left with 54 votes after apparently a councillor collapsed and had to be taken to hospital.

Lawack also survived the motion against him by the same margin, 65 votes wanting him to stay and 53 wanting him to leave.

Ahead of the Council Meeting, the DA had also indicated that it would submit a motion to have the position of Deputy Mayor, which has been vacant since Bobani's ouster, be abolished. It won that motion with 65 votes to 54 that wanted the position to remain.