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Athol Trollip fails in court bid to oust Mongameli Bobani, Manyathi remains a DA Cllr

By Afikile Lugunya - Sep 20, 2018
Athol Trollip fails in court bid to oust Mongameli Bobani, Manyathi remains a DA Cllr

The Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday threw out a bid by ousted Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, to nullify the election of new Mayor, Mongameli Bobani.

The court dismissed the urgent application brought by the Democratic Alliance and its coalition partners' after having reserved judgment last week.

It also ruled that a DA Councillor, Victor Manyathi, who abstained from voting - effectively handing the opposition parties a 60/59 win, which led to the ouster of the DA’s Jonathan Lawack as Speaker, and subsequently the entire DA-led coalition government, is still a DA Councillor until he chooses to resign.

Even if the DA led-coalition had won the case, they no longer had the numbers to retain their positions if another motion of no confidence is to be quickly brought against them after coalition partner, the Patriotic Alliance jumped ship last week on top of the Councillors that signalled they intend to leave the DA.

Judge Johann Huisamen ruled that the DA led-coalition will pay all costs involved in the court case, which dragged in rouge Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillor, Victor Manyathi, Bobani and his entire African National Congress (ANC) dominated Mayoral Committee to as well as new Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Speaker, Buyelwa Mafaya.

After the judgement was handed the so-called black caucus did not even wait for Judge Elna Revelas, who was delivering the judgement on behalf of Judge Huisamen, to finish before cheering and chanting in the court chambers.

Athol Trollip and his team didn't even show any emotions as they exited the courtroom.

Outside the Port Elizabeth High Court, DA Eastern Cape leader, Nqaba Bhanga, took an opportunity to speak to DA supporters that had gathered saying that while they accept the ruling, all the "snitches will be revealed and thrown outside of the party" like Manyathi as they have one vision with him, which is "to destroy the DA".

While speaking to the media, an excited Mayor Bobani said that service delivery is the priority for him and his Mayoral Committee.

"The residents of this City accepted us the day we occupied these positions it is just the DA that had a problem and you know what we are a moving government," he said.

DA court apllication to have Mongameli Bobani removed

The court ruling follows the dramatic events that unfolded at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Council Meeting of 27 August, which later saw the ousting of Trollip, as Mayor, and the DA-led coalition government.

In Trollip’s place, opposition councillors, led by the African National Congress (ANC), elected Bobani and the ANC’s Tshonono Buyeye as his new Deputy.

Bobani subsequently announced an ANC-dominated Mayoral Committee.

The ANC was indeed the biggest winner finding itself back in power just two years after it was defeated in the 2016 Local Government Elections.

The ANC's Andile Lungisa on why Trollip lost to Bobani

Trollip and the DA's coalition partners, the Congress Of the People (COPE), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) were hopeful that the Port Elizabeth High Court will on Thursday take their side and declare Bobani's election on the 27th of August null and void.

On that fateful day, Bobani, who once served as Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Deputy Executive Mayor until he had a fall out with Trollip, moved the motion against the DA’s Jonathan Lawack, who was serving as Speaker, which was seconded by the EFF.

During the voting, a DA Councillor, Victor Manyathi abstained from voting - effectively handing the opposition parties a 60/59 win when the votes were tallied.

He claimed that; "Most of the black DA Councillors are planning on moving away from the DA - it's not only me, but others when they move away from the DA, they are being victimised.”

The DA coalition’s legal challenge was based on Section 36(3) of the Municipal Structures Act (117 of 1998), which states that, “The municipal manager of the municipality or, if the municipal manager is not available, a person designated by the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs in the province, presides over the election of a speaker”.

"After City Manager, Johann Mettler, left the chamber having declared that the meeting did not quorate, Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Fikile Xasa, erroneously invoked Section 36(3) and designated an individual to preside over one item: The election of a Speaker," the parties argue. 

"It is an undisputed truth that the City Manager, Johann Mettler, was in fact at all times available and remained so for the full duration of this unlawfully convened continuation of said council meeting.

"As such, the election of a new Speaker, the subsequent passing of a Motion of No Confidence in the Executive Mayor, the election of a new Executive Mayor and the election of a Deputy Executive Mayor, were all illegal and invalid."

However, the ANC claimed the DA coalition is destined to fail – claiming that more DA councillors want to resign from the party.

According to ANC Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Secretary, Themba Xathula, said the DA-led court challenge “is all about Athol Trollip – to defend his shattered ego".

While the DA and its coalition partners announced that they will boycott the last Council meeting, which they labelled as 'illegitimate', two DA councillors showed up to everyone's surprise, one with a letter notifying the Council of his intention to resign from the DA – perhaps giving credibility to Manyathi’s claims.

As expected, the DA said it will take swift action against the two Councillors - Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins, for defying the party’s order to boycott that Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Council meeting.

More DA councillors to resign

Xathula claimed that there are more unhappy councillors in the DA caucus that have signalled that they will also be jumping ship - “just watch the space.”

“The unhappy DA councillors cite the rampant and overt racism that they experience everyday within the DA as the primary reason for their unhappiness.

“They tell us that councillor Lawack was sworn at and blamed for the humiliation the DA led coalition suffered when they lost control of the Metro,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Bobani had some damage control to do after apparently stating that the Metro's budget for the next financial year will be spent in the townships. 

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