Nelson Mandela Bay council speaker Jonathan Lawack was removed through a no-confidence motion on Monday morning.
In a surprise twist‚ DA PR councillor Mbulelo Manyati decided to abstain from voting‚ giving the opposition councillors a one-seat edge over the coalition government.
The motion was tabled by UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani and seconded by Zilindile Vena.
Opposition parties strategically targeted the speaker’s position first in the hopes of ensuring the DA does not have a casting vote in the event of a 60-60 tie.
The DA and coalition partners ACDP‚ COPE and the Patriotic Alliance have a combined 60 seats while opposition parties the ANC‚ EFF‚ UDM‚ United Front and AIC also have 60 seats.
After Bobani tabled his motion against Lawack‚ saying the speaker could not be trusted to apply the rules fairly‚ there was a 60-60 split in the vote.
However‚ after a request for a re-count of the votes‚ Manyati abstained from voting‚ giving the coalition government only 59 votes against the motion.
Lawack had to vacate his seat‚ with city manager Johann Mettler taking over the proceedings.
The council is adjourned until 2pm.