The Democratic Alliance’s Athol Trollip has been ousted from his position as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. The putsch happened during a contentious council meeting where DA caucus members and the municipal manager walked out of the chambers after the removal of its speaker, Jonathan Lawack.
The United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Mongameli Bobani was elected to replace Trollip.
The DA has described the meeting as a mock council sitting which was illegal, insisting it would challenge the validity of Trollip’s removal.
Eastern Cape DA leader Nqaba Bhanga said the meeting was not supposed to go ahead after municipal manager Johann Mettler called for an adjournment.
“We can see it for ourselves that this is not an ordinary council meeting where processes were followed. It’s a sham of a council meeting,” Bhanga told SABC News on Monday.
“It’s just an illegal meeting and we are not going to tolerate decisions of an illegal meeting. We are focused and we will be doing our work tomorrow. The mayor [Trollip] will be in his office and we’ll do everything within our people which is legal to stop them,” Bhanga said.
The controversy began with the removal of Lawack in a motion of no confidence tabled by Bobani on Monday morning. After DA councillor Victor Manyathi’s shock refusal to join his DA counterparts in defence of Lawack, the council speaker was ousted in the motion supported by the ANC, Economic Freedom Fighters, UDM and United Front.
The DA’s coalition partners, the African Christian Democratic Party, The Congress of the People and the Patriotic Alliance, failed to gather enough support and coupled with Manyathi’s abstention, Lawack was removed by 60 votes to 59.
Mettler then declared a vacancy after the DA announced that Manyathi’s membership was suspended, calling for the meeting to be postponed until next month.
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa however, demanded that the province’s Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa deploy an official to oversee the election of the new speaker.
After the MEC deployed his head of department, Jenny Roestof, ANC councillor Buyela Mafaya was elected speaker to oversee the motion of no confidence in Trollip.
But the DA councillors had already left the chambers, along with Mettler and the council’s stenographer.
With Mafaya’s vote, the opposition had enough to secure a majority and oust Trollip and the motion of no confidence in the mayor was subsequently tabled by the EFF. The motion against Trollip passed with 60 votes.
Bhanga later lashed out at the opposition parties, accusing them of cooperating to “fill their coffers” ahead of the 2019 elections.
“This decision by the unholy alliance of the ANC, EFF and UDM is in order to fill their own party coffers with public funds and bring looting back ahead of the 2019 elections. The ANC and the EFF have rejected the will of the people in favour of enriching themselves,” Bhanga said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Bobani has announced the appointment of a new mayor committee which includes Lungisa heading up the infrastructure and engineering portfolio and the United Front’s Mkhuseli Mtsila taking charge of budgeting and finances.