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Trollip out, Bobani in after dramatic turn of events in Nelson Mandela Bay

Aug 27, 2018
Trollip out, Bobani in after dramatic turn of events in Nelson Mandela Bay

To end a dramatic day at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, former Deputy Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani, emerged as the new Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor after Councillors voted to remove Athol Trollip.

Trollip was removed in absentia after the Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition, which includes the Patriotic Alliance, the African Christian Democratic Party and the Congress of the People, walked out.

With the help of DA Councillor, Victor Manyathi, the opposition parties were able to somewhat constitute a quorum. 

African National Congress (ANC) Councillor, Buyelwa Mafaya, was elected unopposed as the new Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Council Speaker, following the sacking of the DA's Jonathan Lawack in the morning - thanks to Manyathi.

The Eastern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CogTA) sent Jenny Roestorf to oversee the election of the new Speaker after City Manager, Johann Mettler, announced there were legalities to be considered before a new Speaker could be elected.

Mafaya then took the seat of the Speaker and as her first order of business, oversaw the motion brought against Trollip by the EFF.

Bobani was subsequently elected as the new Mayor.

The new Council Chief Whip is the ANC's Bicks Ndoni - who replaces the DA's Werner Senekal.

Lawack's removal

Lawack's removal came as opposition parties sought the ouster of 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, 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 left that coalition after Bobani was removed from the Deputy Mayor position.

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

'Manythi dismissed from DA'

Meanwhile, the DA anounced that it had revocked Manyathi's membership after he voted with the opposition.

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

Manyathi was sitting among opposition Councillors for the remainder of the day as attention turned to 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.

It is understood the DA-led coalition is intending to challenge the election of the new administration.

Manyathi is also understood to be leaving the DA as he pointed out early on.