Ricochet News

DA downplays possibility of election re-run in Nelson Mandela Bay

Sep 25, 2017
DA downplays possibility of election re-run in Nelson Mandela Bay

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday sought to downplay the possibility of a re-run of elections in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's hung council, where the party has suddenly found itself without the support of its coalition partners - the same partners, who had helped it to oust the African National Congress (ANC) in the 2016 Local Government Elections.

While the DA won the majority of the Council seats in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (57 seats), it could not claim an outright win, hence it entered into coalition agreements with various other parties, who shared a common goal of keeping the ANC out of power in the Metro.

These included the United Democratic Movement (UDM), which has two seats, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) (6 seats) and the Congress of the People (COPE) and other smaller parties, which have 1 seat each.

However, things deteriorated early this year when a conflict between Nelon Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, the DA's Athol Trollip, and his Deputy, the UDM's Mongameli Bobani, saw the latter being stripped of his responsibility for public health in the Metro.

In August, he was subsequently ousted as the Deputy Mayor after months of squabbling, claims and counter-claims between him and Trollip.

After initially threatening to leave the coalition if Bobani was not reinstated, the UDM decided to contest the matter in court. The saga continues.

The EFF also signalled that it would be boycotting all Metro coalitions in protest of what it called the DA's arrogance in those coalitions.

The Patriotic Alliance, which was admitted into the DA-led coalition on the 28th of August after its Councillor, Marlon Daniels, helped to remove Bobani, as Deputy Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, last week Thursday announced its immediate withdrawal from the DA-led coalition.

It has since emerged that the Patriotic Alliance had agreed to remove Bobani with the hope that Daniels would then become the new Deputy Executive Mayor.

However, a boycott of Thursday's Council Meeting by the UDM, the African National Congress (ANC) and other parties, forced proceedings to be adjourned as there were not enough numbers in the chamber to reach a quorum.

It was also then that the Patriotic Alliance discovered that the issue of the election of a new Deputy Executive Mayor was not even on the Council Meeting agenda, prompting Patriotic Allaince leader, Gayton McKenzie, to write to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, that the party was leaving the coalition immediately.

With the Patriotic Alliance's withdrawal, the DA now effectively has 59 council seats in the 120 seat council - which means the DA may not have enough numbers to run the Metro unless it engages its protesting partners.

Observers see a re-run of elections as a possibility in order to break the impasse, which could affect service delivery to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality residents. They also see a chance of the ANC reclaiming power if the DA does not solve its squabbles with its coalition partners.

However, the DA on Sunday, said that reports about the possibility of an election in Nelson Mandela Bay "seek to distract us from the most pertinent issues".

"The reality is that the people of NMB rejected the ANC at the ballot box during the 2016 Local Government Elections. They made it clear, through their vote, that they wanted total change. They gave the DA and our coalition partners the mandate to govern with the commitment to root out corruption and deliver basic services fairly and equitably," described DA Federal Chairperson, James Selfe.

"The coalition government has already made great progress in rooting out corruption, bringing about financial stability and delivering services across NMB, more so to poor areas which were neglected by the previous ANC government.

"We cannot seek to put those very same voters through an election when their voices have been heard loud and clear, not just in NMB but in Tshwane and The City of Johannesburg.

"We also cannot be held to ransom and be forced to make decisions which will not be in the best interest of the people that we serve."

He said that the DA remains committed to working with all its partners "to ensure that we do not fail those who have entrusted us with a mandate to lead them to a corruption-free and working city".

"We will continue to engage further with those whom we govern with so we ensure that we do not lose sight of what is most important, the voters," Selfe added.