Rebel ANC councillors were forced to pledge to attend a council meeting where Danny Jordaan was elected mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
Some ANC councillors were allegedly bullied into attending the special council meeting and one, Nomafene Quluba, had to leave her sickbed to attend as the ANC pulled out all stops to ensure Jordaan was elected mayor unopposed.
“I’m not well at all. I’m really sick. It’s been a month since I last worked.
“Even at the council meeting I wasn’t okay, but I was forced to go because of the numbers,” she said.
Quluba was discharged from hospital last week.
“I was not all right yesterday, but the problem is that they want numbers at the council. So I had to attend,” she said.
The ANC has a slim majority in the metro. It has 62 members in the council of 120.
The governing party originally had 63 councillors but one person died recently. A by-election is still to be held.
Opposition parties have a combined 57 councillors. They all boycotted the council meeting on Thursday.
To get a majority enabling it to make decisions in council, the ANC needs at least 61 councillors to be present at meetings.
All 62 of the ANC councillors attended the council meeting despite threats by 18 disgruntled members who were unhappy at the “imposition” of Jordaan as mayor. They wanted to boycott the meeting in a bid to sabotage his election.
But the ANC sent its heavyweights a day before the election to read the riot act to the councillors.
A caucus meeting held on Wednesday at the party’s regional headquarters, Standard House in Port Elizabeth, was attended by several government ministers and members of the ANC national executive committee, including Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula and Cooperative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan. ANC councillors there were told to behave or there would be disastrous consequences.
Three sources, all of them councillors who were at the meeting, said each of the disgruntled councillors was called by name and made to promise that he or she would attend the council meeting the next day. A source described the meeting as “very tense”.
One of the disgruntled councillors, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said on the morning of the council meeting they were “hounded” at their homes in the early hours of the morning by people calling themselves “ANC volunteers” to ensure they attended.
“We were threatened. Most of those who had planned not to attend did so out of fear for our lives. We live in Port Elizabeth. We know how things work around here – if you don’t toe the line, you are gone. They will deal with you. Our movements were being monitored.
“Just last year, an ANC councillor was killed, execution style. The only reason I attended was to spare my life and that of my family. I’m even thinking of resigning after this whole episode,” said the councillor.
Speaking to City Press shortly after Jordaan was elected, ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said they were happy all ANC councillors were present on Thursday to exercise their duties, as mandated by the party.
“We are happy as the ANC that all our councillors were present, all 62 of them. We are inculcating a culture of discipline. Everyone is going to stick to what is expected in terms of ANC discipline, to keep the council decorum,” he said.
He denied that councillors were forced to attend the meeting, saying all councillors did so voluntarily.
Mabuyane said the ANC would remove any stumbling blocks that might prevent Jordaan from performing his duties.
“With Jordaan at the helm we are definitely going to achieve more. We are quite happy as the ANC. We are going to do everything possible to remove any stumbling blocks or bottlenecks, so Jordaan can perform his duties as executive mayor with the support of the ANC,” Mabuyane said.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party had battled for some time to maintain stability within the municipality, and the ANC was hopeful that, with the election of Jordaan, they had found the right remedy.
“The opposition parties missed an opportunity by not attending. Unfortunately their agenda was not to make sure there is stability. I’m sure they are disappointed that 62 councillors of the ANC turned up and all participated. This was not the conspiracy they had hoped for – where ANC councillors would not take part, so they [the opposition] could collapse the municipality,” said Kodwa