UDM wants apology from DA in new Nelson Mandela Bay coalition talks

Bantu Holomisa. (Netwerk24)
Bantu Holomisa. (Netwerk24)
Tebogo Letsie

The UDM has demanded the DA apologise to former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani as part of its conditions in coalition talks.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa told News24 his only condition in the talks was that he be handed a copy of a report by PriceWaterCoopers that was commissioned by former DA mayor Athol Trollip to investigate Bobani while he was MMC for public health. Holomisa believes the report will prove Bobani's innocence. 

He said the DA had indicated it would consult with its structures on the matter.

In what seems to be a desperate move by the party to regain control of the City, the DA is crawling back to its former coalition partners in Nelson Mandela Bay. Holomisa met with DA leaders John Steenhuisen and James Selfe in Pretoria this week. 

ALSO READ | Zille: There are 'talks about talks' on a new coalition for Nelson Mandela Bay

"So, we have requested them to furnish us that report so that if indeed there is no such things, an apology will have to be rendered to Bobani and the UDM. They said they will make a follow up.

"It's their initiative. They came to us. We will consult with our structures. We have not spoken about guidelines, but we have talked about the coalition agreement signed before, that it will have to be reviewed." 

During his time as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, Trollip commissioned a report on Bobani allegedly containing damning evidence of impropriety while he was at the helm of the public health department. The report was never released. 

Steenhuisen, however, denied the DA would hand over the report or offer an apology to Bobani, saying Holomisa's statement was "completely untrue". 

The DA has already lost the gains it achieved in the 2016 local elections.

The party lost Johannesburg to the ANC, and it is expected to lose Tshwane due to a series of own goals. 

Holomisa told News24 the UDM was surprised to have been approached by the DA to discuss the City's future. 

In December, the DA and ANC banded together to remove Bobani as mayor.

"One would have expected that the two parties would form a joint coalition, but it looks like it was not going there. We agreed that we will continue consulting, there was nothing really. It was explanatory talks, reviewing what went wrong, how do we make sure if we work together it won't happen again," Holomisa said. 

Meanwhile, the ANC indicated it intended to field its own candidate should the City go ahead with fresh elections. 

Principled policy on coalitions

While spewing criticism at the DA, ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula said the party would not set itself up for failure, adding it had a principled policy on coalitions. 

"We will field our own candidate in Port Elizabeth because we believe it must be contested because coalitions have failed. Whomever wants to be in coalition with us, we will be happy to work with them." 

After the 2016 elections, the DA governed the municipality in coalition with the UDM, Cope, ACDP and, at times, the Patriotic Alliance. It also had an agreement that the EFF would support Trollip. However, relations between Trollip and Bobani, who was his deputy, soon soured.

ALSO READ: Bobani to know his fate on Friday - court grants urgent interdict

In February 2018, EFF leader Julius Malema infamously said he was going to "cut the throat of whiteness" by removing Trollip as mayor after the DA failed to support the EFF's motion in the National Assembly to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

After failed attempts to remove Trollip, the EFF, ANC and UDM finally succeeded in August 2018 during a dramatic council meeting. The ANC, UDM, African Independent Congress and United Front formed a minority coalition government, governing with the EFF's support. As the allegations against Bobani mounted amid several service delivery failures, he was removed in December, and the EFF did not participate. Currently, deputy mayor Thonono Buyeye of the AIC is the acting executive mayor.

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