The revolving door that has ensnared several mayors in 2019 has struck again. The victim this time around is Nelson Mandela Bay Metro mayor Mongameli Bobani.
On Thursday, the DA and the ANC combined forces and finally voted out the mayor who had been dubbed the “man with nine lives” as a result of him having survived numerous attempts to vote him out since he took over office in August 2018.
A vote of no confidence saw Bobani being booted out. Of the 118 councillors in attendance, 108 voted that he be shown the door.
The motion, was tabled by DA councillor Morne Steyn, and supported by the DA, ANC, AIC, ACDP, COPE and Patriotic Alliance.
The EFF abstained from the vote. Bobani and UDM councillor Thoko Tshangela voted against the motion.
Bobani has been accused of using underhanded tactics to run the metro. He was likened to infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar by the DA in a debate about violent crime in the National Assembly last month.
In the papers that were filed substantiating the reasons for the motion, Steyn noted “current high court action and criminal charges laid against the executive mayor as a results of his unlawful involvement in the removal of Gray Moodliar Attorneys as a service provider to the municipality and from their involvement in the disciplinary matters against various officials who assisted in looting of the Integrated Public Transport Systems and public health sectors”.
Steyn also alleged that Bobani had “directly facilitated the unlawful, and without due legal process, reinstatement of fired and suspended municipal officials”.
Opposition councillors also accused Bobani “and his coalition of corrupt lieutenants” of awarding a drain cleaning tender worth R21 million in December 2018, to a number of small and medium enterprises.
They alleging that since the awarding of the tender, “more than 18 people have been killed in what the police have described as hits which bear all the hallmarks of politically motivated killings.”
The tender has been dubbed the “Great Drain Heist”.
Several councillors also expressed concern last month during a sitting at which yet another motion of no confidence against Bobani was supposed to be discussed.
Council speaker Buyelwa Mafaya and deputy mayor Thsonono Buyeye both revealed that they had received death threats.
Mafaya said her neighbour’s house was sprayed with bullets in an ominous threat to prevent the motion of no confidence proceeding.
The death threats also extended to employees from the Auditor-General’s office. This led to their withdrawal from conducting the annual regularity audit.
Auditor-General spokesperson Africa Boso told City Press’ sister publication News24 that a decision to remove auditors stemmed from the team receiving an anonymous sealed envelope that contained newspaper clippings the office believed were meant to threaten the team.
As a result of all the allegations against the mayor, the DA last month called on cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to place the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality under administration.
DA provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said “the metro was run by thugs and subjected to gangsterism”.
“There’s nothing happening as far as governance is concerned. For months, standing committees have not been sitting and council is dysfunctional.
“This city is collapsing and junior officials are running the city, meaning we are living in a stateless municipality,” said Bhanga.
Former mayor Athol Trollip has praised Bobani’s removal saying “hopefully we can start putting the people of this city first”.
Despite the mayor’s removal, Trollip said there was no “singing and dancing” because Bobani had caused damaged to the city during his 15 months in office.
Buyeye has been appointed interim mayor until a new coalition government is formed in the new year.