DA goes to court for review of Athol Trollip ousting in Nelson Mandela Bay

Athol Trollip (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)
Athol Trollip (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

The DA has lodged court papers in Port Elizabeth, asking for an urgent review of Monday's "coup d'état" when the ANC, EFF and UDM banded together to remove Athol Trollip as the mayor of Nelson Mandala Bay (NMB).

"Our position is very clear: In this city, there has been a coup d'état, led by the ANC, EFF, UDM and other smaller parties," Eastern Cape DA leader Nqaba Bhanga told reporters on Friday afternoon after the court papers were filed.

"We felt we are not going to fight them over the mic or over the office. 

"We are going to respect the institution (of the council) and the very important institution of the court."

READ: New NMB alliance a 'rent-seeking coalition' - Crispian Olver

On Monday evening, Trollip was ousted through a motion of no confidence and his nemesis from the UDM, former deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani was elected mayor, with no DA councillors nor any of its coalition partners present, bar Victor Manyati.

Manyati abstained during the vote of no confidence in speaker Jonathan Lawack and was summarily expelled from the DA, sending the council meeting into chaos.

After City manager Johann Mettler obtained a legal opinion, he declared that Manyati, who was by then sitting among ANC councillors and not with his DA colleagues, was not a councillor, having been sent the information by the DA.

In response to this statement, councillors from the DA and its coalition partners jumped up and danced, and proceeded to leave the chamber.

The council would have had to elect a new speaker, after which a motion of no confidence in Trollip would have been heard.

Mettler said the meeting didn't have a quorum and couldn't continue.

The opposition councillors waited until Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa sent an official to preside over the meeting.

When the official proceeded with the meeting, after establishing that there was a quorum, Buyelwa Mafaya was elected speaker and proceeded with the motion of no confidence in Trollip, brought by the EFF.

Every councillor present supported it.

After Trollip was removed, Bobani was unanimously elected mayor.

The DA contends that this procedure wasn't in accordance with the Municipal Structures Act, which states: "The municipal manager of the municipality or, if the municipal manager is not available, a person designated by the MEC for local government in the province, presides over the election of a speaker."

According to the DA, Mettler was available to preside over the sitting, yet he was denied this role by Xasa and the person designated by him.

"Mayor Athol Trollip remains mayor," Bhanga said on Friday.

"What they are doing now, they are a mock government," Bhanga said about the ANC, EFF and UDM grouping.

"But we are not going to fight with them about that. We are sending a very clear message to the people that we are defending the City.

"We respect democracy and the rules of this institution. We will never allow people who have broken the City down for years when we have just reconstructed it. They have just committed a coup d'état."

The Eastern Cape ANC said in a statement on Thursday that they thanked "all political parties who set aside their differences including Manyati and voted with their conscience in support of the motion".

"This had nothing to do with politics, but ensuring that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality continues on its constitutional mandate of delivering services to its citizens while also protecting workers' rights which have effectively evaporated under the tyrant rule of Trollip and his administration," reads the statement from ANC Eastern Cape spokesperson Judy Mpetsheni. 

"The ANC is of the view that the municipality deserves a responsible, transparent, honest and accountable political leadership that puts the interests of the community of Nelson Mandela Bay first and not narrow selfish interests."

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