The United Democratic Movement will continue to support an opposition-sponsored mayoral candidate in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on Thursday, despite the odds swinging in favour of the DA's Athol Trollip.
Trollip's chances of surviving the upcoming motion of no confidence against him were given a major boost on Tuesday evening when the Patriotic Alliance (PA) said it would back the embattled Democratic Alliance mayor.
The PA's extra seat puts the current council split at 60 seats to 60. In the event of a tie, DA council speaker Jonathan Lawack will cast the deciding vote.
Complicating the issue even further is that the opposition caucus has not yet decided on a candidate. ANC national executive committee members told News24 this week that the party may not field its own candidate.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, whose party has two seats, and could have been a swing vote, said the party's relationship with the DA, at least in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, was long over.
"Anybody who is willing to be a mayor, other than DA or Trollip, we will support," he told News24 on Tuesday.
Gauteng coalition agreement unaffected
"We are currently in caucus with the EFF, ANC and all other small parties and will meet again this week. We have delegated all powers to our local branch there.
"But we will not vote DA."
The party will, however, continue its coalition with the DA in Gauteng, as the Nelson Mandela Bay issue was about Trollip, he said.
A party insider told News24 this week that the UDM shouldn't be siding with the ANC on this issue, as past allegations of corruption and maladministration still haunted it in the metro.
Some of those allegations are detailed in the book How to Steal a City by Crispian Olver.
However, Holomisa insisted the party wanted a commitment to probe pre-2016 corruption, when the ANC was in power, as part of the negotiations.
'We want to draw a line'
He told News24 last week that the candidate needed to be "reputable".
"My core concerns are around administrative issues," he said.
"We want to have the council look at pre-2016 corruption. We want to draw a line or else the ANC will be seen to be coming back to protect certain individuals."
A source told News24 that former ousted deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani would probably seek a place in the new council if Trollip is voted out. Holomisa and Bobani are very close, the source said.
The move could upset some, following various allegations by the DA that Bobani was engaged in corrupt activities in the metro. The DA also accused him of siding with the African National Congress on many issues.
The allegations are contained in a council report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers that was never made public by the DA.
Bobani rumours are 'DA propaganda'
Holomisa insisted that there was yet to be any credible evidence brought against Bobani.
Criticism of his ongoing support of Bobani was an attack on his integrity, Holomisa said angrily.
"Bobani is free to contest, and free if the other parties want him too. We don't have any objections, we have absolutely nothing against him," he declared.
He said the rumours against Bobani were nothing short of DA "propaganda", and even some DA members were questioning the allegations after the report was never tabled publicly.
News24 understands that Bobani will field his own name for the mayoral candidacy on the opposition ticket.
A proposed move to install the PA's Marlon Daniels as deputy looks dead in the water following the PA pledging its support to the DA.
Daniels confirmed to News24 on Wednesday that he was offered the position of mayor on that ticket, but turned it down.
A special council sitting is due to sit from 08:00 on Thursday.
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