The leadership of two DA mayors – Nelson Mandela Bay’s Athol Trollip and Johannesburg’s Herman Mashaba – will be put to the test on Thursday when they face votes of no confidence along with their speakers.
And while it seems that the EFF is in a powerful position to decide the fate of Trollip and speaker of council Jonathan Lawack, the party has been silent amid fierce political campaigning ahead of the vote of no confidence.
The DA-led coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay lost its majority in council following a debacle surrounding the ousting of former deputy mayor and UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani.
A hastily formed agreement with the Patriotic Alliance (PA), which was key in ousting Bobani, also collapsed after Trollip refused to put PA councillor Marlon Daniels forward as the new deputy mayor.
Daniels and Bobani, who are behind the motions against Trollip and Lawack, officially resolved their differences at a press conference on Wednesday morning, with Daniels apologising to Bobani and the two embracing.
Daniels said he had been lobbied by Trollip to join the coalition since January and was deliberately misled by the mayor to bring the motion against Bobani.
He said Trollip had lied to him about evidence relating to Bobani’s alleged corrupt activities, and had to date, failed to provide any proof of wrongdoing.
Daniels said despite bringing the motions, the PA was not interested in the positions of mayor, deputy mayor or speaker.
EFF are the kingmakers
As things currently stand, the DA-led coalition holds 59 of the 120 votes (DA 57, ACDP, 1, COPE 1). The ANC has 50 votes, followed by the EFF with 6, the UDM with 2, and the African Independent Congress (AIC), PA and United Front (UF) with one vote each.
Based on Wednesday’s proceedings, the coalition has secured all its 59 votes, with the ACDP’s Lance Grootboom and COPE’s Siyasanga Sijadu both declaring they would oppose the motions.
In order to remove Trollip and Lawack, the opposition would need the EFF to vote with them in order to reach the majority of 61 votes. Without the EFF, they would only muster 55 votes.
The ANC has declared that it would support the motions against both Trollip and Lawack, alongside the UDM, PA, AIC and UF.
Both sides have claimed that they have the support of the EFF, but the EFF has remained silent on the matter.
Local representatives have said they are waiting on guidance from their national structures, referring queries to national office.
The EFF has previously boycotted council, saying the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay demonstrated the “arrogance of power and white supremacy”.
Attempts to contact EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi were unsuccessful.
‘Business as usual’ for the city
DA provincial leader and mayoral committee member for human settlements Nqaba Bhanga said that Thursday would be business as usual for the city and that the DA was confident that the vote of no confidence against Trollip and Lawack would be unsuccessful.
Sijadu slammed both Daniels and Bobani for getting involved in “personality politics, character assassination and patronage”.
“The turmoil has nothing to do with service delivery or the quality of work,” she said.
“Trollip is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we are not here to drink tea. It’s not about liking each other, it’s about getting the job done,” she said.
In Johannesburg, the ANC tabled a motion of no confidence against Mashaba and speaker Vasco da Gama.
Councillors are expected to debate and vote on the motion on Thursday.
ANC and DA supporters are expected to march in their numbers to the council chambers in Braamfontein.
Mashaba ‘has to go’
Da Gama said the EFF “appreciates” the work that the DA administration has done in its first year in office.
He added that while the EFF may put on theatrics during the debate, “when it comes to reality, who’s going to lose out the most? All of us.”
“The coalition is fine and all our partners are fine. We have worked on it and hopefully tomorrow we will pull it through.”
He said the motions were frivolous.
The ANC however remains confident that it has a fighting chance on Thursday despite not having a majority.
ANC regional spokesperson Jolidee Matongo told News24 that the ANC needed a simple majority to remove Mashaba and Da Gama.
“We have the numbers. As we speak we have 124 and we require a simple majority, it doesn’t require 136 councillors to vote for the motion. We don’t know what will be the attitude of others. We are pursuing the IFP, we are pursuing the other smaller parties in the council to work with us.”
Matongo came short of admitting that the EFF was the wild card, saying that he hoped the party would vote for the right side.
“We cannot fold our arms and relax and not point out these issues. We believe Mashaba doesn’t have the focus on the basic things and he has to go,” he said.