The dispute over last week’s ousting of deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani, a member of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro has jeopardised the future of all other metros governed by the DA-led coalition.
Nelson Mandela Bay’s executive mayor Athol Trollip may rue his decision to expel Bobani and his assertion that the council would be better off without him following his axing. “We are technically better off because now we have got 60 votes in council,” he said.
“With the UDM in the coalition not voting with us, we had 59 votes instead of 61. So, it is better this way. These people have always given us problems.”
However, Bobani’s removal has prompted a decision by another coalition partner, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), to absent itself from all council meetings in the three metros governed by the DA-led coalitions.
Nqaba Bhanga, the DA leader in the Eastern Cape, described the EFF’s decision as “short-sighted”, saying it would only serve to put power back in the hands of the ANC. He said his party had requested an urgent meeting with the EFF leadership to discuss the matter and had offered the UDM an opportunity to replace Bobani.
“We cannot afford to let internal squabbles subvert the people’s business and undermine the great work that has been done by our coalition governments,” he said.
“In essence, the EFF is defying the mandate provided to the opposition by millions of voters, a step which seeks to cripple service delivery and job creation where we govern.”
In an interview with City Press on Thursday night, Trollip said Bobani and his party had not voted for the coalition government since January. This had crippled the DA coalition government. As a result, the party was forced to talk to Patriotic Alliance (PA) councillor Marlon Daniels, whose party initiated the motion of no confidence against Bobani, and lost the UDM. He said this could be reversed.
But Bobani’s boss, UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa, called Trollip a bully who wanted to take unilateral decisions without consulting other coalition partners.
This week, the UDM instituted legal action against the DA in Port Elizabeth. In court papers, Bobani said he was seeking an order that the August 24 decision to fire him be set aside and that he be reinstated as deputy mayor.
Bobani also wants a declaratory order that the motion of no confidence against him – spearheaded by Daniels, whose party now forms part of the coalition government – be rendered unconstitutional and unlawful.
Bobani refused to comment on Thursday and referred questions to Holomisa.
“What the DA claims and what the DA does, what the DA promises and what the DA delivers, remain alarmingly divergent,” said Holomisa.
He said the motion of no confidence was irrational as there were no factual or legal grounds for Bobani’s removal as he had not been formally accused of any wrongdoing.