Ricochet News

Dispute over Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins throws Council Meeting into chaos

By Afikile Lugunya - Jan 31, 2019
Dispute over Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins throws Council Meeting into chaos

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality first Council meeting for 2019 quickly descended into chaos on Thursday morning over the status of two rogue Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillors - Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins.

Louw and Higgins signalled their intentions to leave the DA last year after defying a party orderand attending a Council Meeting following the dramatic ouster of the DA-led coalition governmentthat had led the Bay since the 2016 Local Government Elections.

The items that were on the Council Meeting agenda included the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's Annual Report as well as the Auditor-General's Report that needed to be brought before Councillors and be noted by the Speaker of Council, Buyelwa Mafaya.

After these two items had been noted,  the Metro's Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) will discuss them and come back with a report in the next Council Meeting in February.

However,  as has become characteristic of the Metro's Council Meetings, proceedings quickly descended into chaos.

This is after DA Eastern Cape leader, Nqaba Bhanga, interrupted the meeting pointing out that there were two "illegal" Councillors in the Council Chambers - referring to rogue DA Councillors, Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins.

In December last year, the Port Elizabeth High Court ruled that both councillors were no longer DA councillors. However, the two filed an application for leave to appeal the court's ruling.

Stand-in Municipal Manager, Mbuzeli Nogqala, responded to Bhanga that he had not been informed that Louw and Higgins' contracts as Councillors had been terminated.

'Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins no longer DA councillors'

Bhanga and other DA councillors insisted that Louw and Higgins should be sitting in the Public Gallery as they are no longer Councillors.

Nogqala said that Louw and Higgins remain councillors in the Metro until their application for leave to appeal is concluded. Mafaya agreed.

However, Bhanga hit back saying that the Speaker cannot change court rulings. He pointed out that the IEC still listed their Wards as vacant - apparently campaigning for by-elections for ward 35 and 37 is already underway.

From then on, there was bickering among Councillors and name-calling.

After much deliberation, Mafaya suspended the meeting for 20 minutes while Nogqala sought legal opinion on the matter.

He later came back and described that he was advised by the Metro's lawyers that while the court did find that Louw and Higgins were no longer DA councillors, the law also provides that their appeal be finalised first before the municapality can terminate their Councillor contracts.

So, as long as long as there was a quorum, the Council Meeting could resume.

There was furtther disruptions in the Council Chambers as DA Councillors started banging tables.

However, Mafaya ignored the disruptions and noted the two items that were on the agenda and adjourned the meeting.

Meanwhile, outside the Chambers, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani, had some firefighting to do as a group of residentshad gathered outside demanding the houses they say they were promised by the municipality.

Follow more RNEWS articles, subscribe to our YouTube channel and for breaking news LIKE us on Facebook. For news on the Western Cape click here.