Two DA ward councillors in Nelson Mandela Bay turned against their party on Friday to side with the new coalition government.
Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins‚ councillors of wards 35 and 37 respectively‚ were the only DA councillors who turned up.
The rest of the DA and its coalition partners - Cope‚ the ACDP and the Patriotic Alliance - stayed away.
The ANC‚ African Independent Congress (AIC)‚ UDM and United Front needed a 61-member majority to continue with council business. With Louw and Higgins present‚ the parties had 62 councillors.
It later emerged that a resignation letter‚ allegedly written by Louw to the DA‚ had been handed over by the secretariat to city manager Johann Mettler before the meeting started.
Louw does not deny writing the letter‚ but claims DA members grabbed his bag and forcefully took the resignation letter from him. "This letter was forcefully taken from me by DA members outside. I had no intention of submitting it‚ but my bag was taken‚” said Louw.
A Herald reporter saw DA councillor Rano Kayser standing outside the chamber door‚ ready to hand over Louw's resignation letter. Kayser said he was going to give the letter to the municipal manager. "I've got the letter right here. He resigned from the DA and is not a councillor anymore."
However‚ speaker Buyelwa Mafaya refused to acknowledge the letter because Louw had not handed it over himself. She therefore declared the resignation letter null and void. She also ordered an investigation into allegations that the letter was forcefully taken from Louw.
Meanwhile‚ the councillors agreed that former mayor Athol Trollip would undergo a disciplinary process for “leaking” confidential municipal reports to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
Trollip is accused of transgressing council rules by handing over draft forensic reports to Maimane last year‚ at the height of the tense standoff between Trollip and his then deputy‚ Mongameli Bobani of the UDM.
The reports‚ compiled by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers‚ allegedly contain damning evidence of impropriety by Bobani while he was at the helm of the public health department. They have not yet been made public.
Trollip said previously that he did not regard his actions as leaking. “A leak implies secrecy/concealed disclosure. I certainly did not leak the report to Mr Maimane or the leaders of our coalition partners.
“I report to my party leadership and in a coalition to the coalition partners‚” said Trollip. “When I raised concerns about the issues under councillor Bobani’s stewardship‚ it was Bantu Holomisa who requested the evidence/report.”
The council meeting is still underway.