Ricochet News

How EFF insults and behind-the-door deals saw PA coming to Trollip's aid

By Afikile Lugunya - Aug 16, 2018
How EFF insults and behind-the-door deals saw PA coming to Trollip's aid

The Patriotic Alliance (PA) on Thursday defended its decision to dump other Nelson Mandela Bay opposition parties that had sought to use their majority to remove Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and the Democratic Alliance (DA)-led coalition government.

Two weeks ago, the 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 PA petition Speaker Jonathan Lawack to schedule a special Council Meeting to debate Trollip's future among other things.

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, fractures in the opposition alliance emerged last week 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.

On Wednesday, the opposition parties held a meeting 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.

Following the EFF insult, the PA announced it would withdraw Daniels and support Bobani as Trollip's replacement so as to save the opposition alliance, but then again made a u-turn announcing that it had decided that Daniels remains Trollip’s replacement as initially agreed.

After Wednesday's 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 after the DA-led coalition had been booted out.

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

He said other parties had 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.

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

Thursday's gathering, like previous attempts to oust Trollip, witnessed 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 told the media on Thursday afterwards that the EFF has shown no respect for them, 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 Thursday's 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."

Lawack will have to announce a new date for the continuation of the meeting.