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Even without the numbers, opposition parties to move motion against Trollip

Aug 27, 2018
Even without the numbers, opposition parties to move motion against Trollip

Despite no longer enjoying a majority at Council, Nelson Mandela Bay opposition parties are expected on Monday to proceed with a bid to oust Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and the entire Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition government.

Initially, six opposition parties, the African National Congress (ANC), the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the African Independent Congress (AIC), the United Front (UF) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) supported the bid to oust Trollip and the entire DA-led coalition.

The opposition parties had a combined 61 seats in the 120-seat Council against the DA-led coalition's 59 seats, which includes seats from the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Congress of the People (COPE).

However, at the eleventh hour, the PA announced that it had decided not to vote against Trollip and the coalition, which would effectively bring voting to a stalemate.

In that scenario, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Council Speaker, Jonathan Lawack, from the DA and who also faces a motion against him, will then have to cast the deciding vote – which will obviously secure the DA coalition’s win.

Fractures in the opposition alliance emerged after the EFF said that they do not support the PA’s Marlon Daniels becoming the next Mayor in the event of Trollip’s successful removal.

The EFF went to as far as calling the PA a party of “thugs” and “unrepentant fraudsters” and said it agrees Trollip must go, but it might end up withholding its six votes – handing the DA coalition the win.

"Our hatred for racism will not manipulate us to vote a party of unrepentant fraudsters. EFF will never give the city of Nelson Mandela Bay to thugs. If there is no worthy candidate from opposition benches, then the EFF will not participate," the EFF described.

The parties held a meeting that was meant to try and salvage the situation.

Apparently all the other parties had agreed that Daniels will be the next Mayor while the EFF preferred former Deputy Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani, the Regional Chairperson of the UDM.

It had been agreed then that Bobani would become Daniels’ deputy should the motions succeed.

Ironically, it was Daniels, who set in motion the removal of Bobani as Deputy Mayor last year. The two later said that they had let by-gones be by-gones when they sought the removal of Trollip in November last year.

This year, they again found themselves on opposite sides as the PA struck a deal with the DA-led coalition, which saved Trollip after another motion of no confidence was brought against him by the EFF. Daniels subsequently became the new MMC for Roads and Transport.

The PA then announced it would withdraw Daniels so as to save the opposition alliance, but then again it changed its mind insisting that Daniels remains Trollip’s replacement as agreed prior.

Ahead of the Special Council meeting, PA leader, Gayton McKenzie, announced that the AIC, PA, UF and ANC couldn’t agree with the EFF and UDM about the senior positions in the metro.

“The PA shall therefore not support the motion, thereby making it a failure tomorrow.”

He said other parties wanted to know why Daniels had been withdrawn against the initial agreement and said that the meeting ended with the EFF saying that they can never vote with the PA.

Council meeting again descends into a shouting contest

At the Council meeting, like at previous attempts to oust Trollip, there were shouting battles among councillors leaving the Speaker to announce a postponement after a quorum could not be reached as opposition parties ended up leaving the council chambers.

'We were insulted while the coalition worked to win our vote'

Daniels later told the media that the EFF has shown no respect for the PA, hence they had decided to switch sides and stand with the DA-led coalition.

"We listened to the national leaders of the EFF, who insulted us, calling us unrepentant fraudsters and thugs, while I speak before you with no criminal record - so the glove doesn't fit," he said.

"In our National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings, we had the question of how can you work with people, who have insulted you the way they did. The PA has no funders, so the EFF must not act as if they are our funders and expect us to do what they like." 

Daniels continued that he is the one, who appealed to the PA and asked to withdraw from the opposition alliance because "in a relationship, you go if you are not happy". 

"While the EFF was insulting the PA, the DA led-coalition was busy mending things and we came up with a workable plan," Daniels described.

Speculation is rife that the PA has been promised the Deputy Executive Mayor position should Council reverse a decision taken last year to dissolve the position.

Meanwhile, Trollip described what happened in council as an example of opposition parties having lost face after a “well-choreographed act to collapse the meeting". 

"We are committed to continue governing the city as the people of the city elected us to do. It is a sad day that the opposition parties have allowed the business of the council to stall since March, but a lot of work has happened between March and today and more work will continue to happen."

Opposition parties, who walked out of council in less than 20 minutes after the council meeting had started, claimed that the council agenda arrived late - so as to manipulate proceedings. 

In terms of Rule 4.2, items to be discussed should be brought to Councillors not less than five days to the date of the meeting.

They blamed the City Manager, Johann Mettler.

"If a City Manager can just disregard [Councillors] and the Speaker, as a custodian of these rules, is supposed to protect them at all cost - the same way they are being applied against us,"Cllr Zilindile Vena, of the EFF, said.

Bobani also told Lawack, "The UDM, EFF, ANC, AIC and UF, when we petitioned you, you said that we must submit our petition according to the rules, but your agenda, in terms of the same rule, we didn't receive it in terms of Rule 4.2 that you have used in order to discredit the motion to remove you. 

"Now we want to protect this motion in this agenda because we want to remove you within your own rules and therefore this meeting cannot continue because we are not happy."

It remains to be seen what will happen at Monday's meeting.