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READ LETTER: Manyathi challenges removal from DA after he 'helped' sack Speaker Jonathan Lawack

By Afikile Lugunya - Aug 27, 2018
READ LETTER: Manyathi challenges removal from DA after he 'helped' sack Speaker Jonathan Lawack

And the drama continues. In a letter from his lawyers, Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillor, Victor Mxolisi Manyathi, notified Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality City Manager, Johann Mettler, of his intention to challenge his suspension or dismissal from the DA on Monday.

The DA had summarily terminated Manyathi's membership following the events at council on Monday morning that led to the removal of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Council Speaker, Jonathan Lawack.

James Selfe, the DA's Federal Executive Chairperson, wrote to Mettler, informing him of the vacancy created by Manyathi's termination from the party.

Manyathi spent the rest of the day sitting among opposition Councillors as the attention turned on electing a new Council Speaker.

In a letter to Mettler, Manyathi's lawyers said that he remains a DA Councillor for now as his status as a Councillor was bestowed by the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay and not by the DA.

Lawack's removal

Lawack's removal came as opposition parties sought the ouster of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and the entire 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.

On Monday morning, the UDM's Regional Chairperson, Mongameli Bobani, who once served as Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Deputy Executive Mayor until he had a fall out with Trollip, moved the motion against Lawack, which was seconded by the EFF.

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

Manyathi surprised everyone, especially the DA councillors, when he didn't raise his hand when those against the removal of the Speaker were asked to show by raising their hands.

He has since said that he doesn't want to comment much about why he didn't vote for Lawack to remain the Speaker.

"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," he said.

"I have to have a strategy to move away from the DA - I don't want to comment much, but I'm just saying that black Councillors are moving away from the DA for their personal reasons."

Opposition parties were now trying to "protect" him from being "victimised" by the DA.

Lawack, who is a DA member, left the Council chambers.

He was elected Speaker of Council in 2016 after the DA managed to win the Local Government Elections held in August that year.

However, the DA did not secure an outright majority and entered into coalition agreements with various smaller parties in order to keep the ousted ANC at bay.

The UDM has since left that coalition.

Lawack was often accused by opposition parties of being biased towards his party - the DA. Hence, they moved to have him removed.

At the time of publishing, Councillors were in the process of electing a new Speaker, who will preside over the motions against Trollip and other coalition members.

In a letter, Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), apponted Jenny Roestorf to oversee the election of the new Speaker.

More to follow...

Main image: DA Councillor, Mxolisi Manyathi