UPDATE | The DA's Nqaba Bhanga is the new mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay

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Nelson Mandela Bay's newly elected mayor, Nqaba Bhanga.
Nelson Mandela Bay's newly elected mayor, Nqaba Bhanga.
Lulama Zenzile
  • The DA's Nqaba Bhanga has been elected as the new executive mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
  • Bhanga resigned from the provincial legislature earlier this year in order to run for the position of mayor.
  • Earlier, a group of men caused a commotion in the council meeting when they forcibly removed Speaker Buyelwa Mafaya from her chair.

Democratic Alliance leader in the Eastern Cape, councillor Nqaba Bhanga, was elected as the new executive mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on Friday night.

This followed a marathon council meeting at the Port Elizabeth City Hall, which began at 11:00, and was filled with numerous adjournments and high drama.

Bhanga was the only nominee and was elected mayor around 21:20.

The news was met with cheers and applause.

Earlier in the afternoon, a group of men had seemingly barged into the chamber and forcibly removed Speaker Buyelwa Mafaya from her chair before the vote was due to take place.

Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki told News24 the meeting (a hybrid meeting) was adjourned after a few men walked into the hall and caused a commotion.

"... security guards had to come in and try to resolve the issue," said Mniki.

Mafaya later logged back into the meeting, virtually, and sounded shaken and emotional.

"I am in casualty at St Georges hospital," Mafaya said while panting.

"I am going to open a case after this [at Mount Road]," she said.

She said she needed to know how the men were given access to enter her chambers.

"I need to know why because I have done nothing wrong. I was doing what was expected of me."

She wanted to adjourn the meeting, but Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels objected and said they should continue.

"You can call us insensitive... you got what you wanted. Your time to be removed is today and no matter what tricks you guys come up with, you are going," he said.

"Everybody is not stupid. You cannot fool everyone all the time."

The item was carried over from a council meeting on 24 November, after Mafaya was ordered to hold a special meeting to elect a new mayor.

The order was issued by the Grahamstown High Court on 18 November, requiring Mafaya to comply within seven days.

The tug-of-war over the mayorship has been going on for months.

In July, the DA filed papers seeking an order to compel Mafaya to call an urgent council meeting to elect a new mayor.

The position has been vacant since December after a vote of no confidence saw the UDM's Mongameli Bobani ousted as mayor.

Since then, Thsonono Buyeye has been serving as acting mayor.

The provincial executive, led by Premier Oscar Mabuyane and the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Xolile Nqatha, had previously threatened to dissolve the metro under the provisions of section 139(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The council meeting was disrupted on several occasions.

At one point, it was adjourned after council members found "dust" in the chamber, causing some of them to cough.

This was later followed by a multiparty meeting to request Mafaya to move the election to the top of the agenda, which was denied.

More than R1 billion of grant funds, meant for the municipality, had been withheld by the National Treasury due to the municipality's non-compliance with guidelines. 

Buyeye confirmed during the council meeting that the Minister of Finance and National Treasury had agreed to release outstanding conditional grants to the municipality.

He added that the municipality had gone for almost a year without grants from National Treasury.

"[Let it not be that our] citizens suffer due to the actions or inaction of council," Buyeye said.

National Treasury is empowered by the Constitution to stop the transfer of funds to any organ of state, which commits a serious or persistent breach of the measures prescribed to promote transparency, accountability and the effective financial management of the economy, debt and the public sector.

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