Nelson Mandela Bay political showdown

04 August 2017 - 12:26 By Rochelle De Kock And Siyamtanda Capa
Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani (grey blazer) during the municipal council meeting on May 23, 2017 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The NM Bay municipality council was adjourned when Bobani clashed with speaker, Jonathan Lawack, who had Bobani to leave the meeting after a disagreement.
Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani (grey blazer) during the municipal council meeting on May 23, 2017 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The NM Bay municipality council was adjourned when Bobani clashed with speaker, Jonathan Lawack, who had Bobani to leave the meeting after a disagreement.
Image: Gallo Images / The Times / Eugene Coetzee

Political parties in Nelson Mandela Bay are gearing up for what is expected to be one of the biggest political showdowns since the coalition government took over.

At the centre of it all is a bid to remove deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani.

Leading the charge against Bobani is Patriotic Alliance (PA) councillor Marlon Daniels‚ supported by the DA’s Nqaba Bhanga.

Daniels‚ who recently signed a co-governance agreement with the DA‚ is gunning for Bobani’s job as well as the post of political head of safety and security‚ currently held by the DA’s John Best.

It is all expected to play out in the council next Thursday‚ with Bobani facing the real possibility of his coalition partners ganging up to remove him from power.

In Daniels’s motion to the council‚ he wrote that Bobani’s behaviour had been erratic in recent months‚ leading to “instability in this government”.

“[He] has on a number of occasions unnecessarily delayed important council business and service delivery‚” Daniels states in the motion.

In an interview on Thursday‚ Daniels said the day marked a year since the 2016 local government elections and he believed the infighting within the coalition was not fair on residents.

“When parents fight‚ it’s the kids who suffer‚ and this impasse between the parents of this metro is not fair‚” Daniels said.

“I am aware that there’s been communication between the national leaders on this issue and yet to date there’s no solution. It’s against that backdrop that I decided to submit the motion.”

He said the PA and DA shared common ground in that their support base was largely in the northern areas.

To succeed with the motion‚ Daniels and the DA would at least need the backing of coalition partners COPE and the ACDP‚ which would then leave the council with a 60-60 member split. There are a total of 120 seats in the council.

According to the council rule book‚ on agenda items and motions not related to the city’s finances‚ council speaker Jonathan Lawack (DA) would have a casting vote‚ which essentially gives him a deciding vote in the event of a tie.

However‚ to pass budgets‚ bylaws and other finance-related items‚ a 61-member majority is needed.

The seat allocations in the council are DA 57‚ ANC 50‚ EFF six‚ UDM two‚ and COPE‚ ACDP‚ United Front‚ AIC and PA one each.

It is‚ however‚ unclear at this stage if COPE and the ACDP would support the motion against Bobani as both parties’ local representatives said the final word would come from their national bosses.

ACDP councillor Lance Grootboom said he had never been informed about the motion nor had it been discussed with his political principals.

“It’s crucial that this matter is discussed by the national leadership because we are governed by the coalition agreement. I can’t make an undertaking that I would support it or not support it.”

COPE councillor Siyasanga Sijadu agreed‚ saying her decision would be dependent on instructions from her national bosses.

Bobani declined to comment on the planned motion and referred questions to UDM president Bantu Holomisa‚ who said he believed the whole thing smacked of divide-and-rule tactics.

“It’s a case of playing one brother up against another. The DA signed an agreement with the PA councillor‚ so how can you use the same person to move a motion against the deputy mayor? This style of doing things is unbelievable. We expect that in time‚ [mayor Athol] Trollip will give the reasons for the motion and state exactly which rule or regulations Bobani is believed to have flouted so that he can defend himself‚” Holomisa said.

Asked if he had discussed the matter with some of the UDM’s other coalition partners‚ Holomisa said he was not interested in lobbying for support on this issue.

“I spoke to [Mosiuoa] Lekota yesterday on the phone and he distanced himself from that. But I’m not interested in lobbying other parties. The DA is out of order and I’m not going to waste my time‚” Holomisa said.

“We are going to deal with him [Trollip] decisively.”

Council chief whip Werner Senekal (DA) said: “I can’t say much on the motion. It is what it is. We are seconding the motion.”

Meanwhile‚ the ANC and EFF said they did not want to get involved in coalition squabbles.

EFF councillor Yoliswa Yako said the party still had to consult with the upper structures in the EFF.

“We have not been approached by anybody in terms of taking sides‚ but our main interest is that no services be stopped and that the coalition must function and be intact.

“We would never vote in support of any situation that is going to crack the coalition‚” Yako said.

ANC caucus leader Bicks Ndoni said his party had not yet discussed the motion‚ but he did not believe they would vote against Bobani.

“In some instances we would abstain‚ but I think the ANC will support Bobani to remain as deputy mayor‚” Ndoni said.

-HeraldLIVE

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