United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa is doubtful of any future for the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition government as long as both mayor Athol Trollip (DA) and his deputy, Mongameli Bobani (UDM), remain at the helm.
This was in response to a report, released on Friday, by a multi-party panel set up to probe the toxic relationship between Trollip and Bobani.
The report paints a picture of two leaders who repeatedly breached their coalition agreement in their exercise of power as well as in their attempt to resolve disputes.
Among the findings are that personality clashes and power-mongering have consumed the coalition, causing a complete breakdown of trust and a tug of war which abandoned the plight of the poor.
In response to the report, Holomisa said yesterday: “This mentality of not wanting to give but always willing to take and trying to enforce your own party’s view over the other party is clearly not working.
“Mr Bobani and his mayor seem to be finger-pointing.
“I once told them, if it is not working, and it comes to a push, we will need to drop both of you. We are marching towards that now.
“I have always said this coalition is going nowhere. If Trollip and Bobani are not toeing the line, then let’s deal with these individuals.”
Coalition leaders would discuss the findings and map a way forward, Holomisa said.
DA federal council chairman James Selfe said yesterday coalitions were always difficult to manage “but everyone needs to have the will to make the coalition survive”.
“Even if the coalition continues without Mr Bobani at the helm, we value our relationship with the UDM and will continue to do so,” Selfe said.
At the centre of the dispute are allegations from Trollip that Bobani is uncontrollable and irrational, while Bobani claims Trollip is domineering and undermines the autonomy of the deputy mayor as representative of another, independent political party.
The panel, made up of COPE, the ACDP and FF Plus, said its probe was based on papers submitted by both parties.
However, it said, despite various allegations made, the parties did not submit sufficient affidavits and documented evidence to prove their allegations.
The panel said it could therefore not conclusively pinpoint who was at fault as this also fell outside its mandate.
Listing its findings, the panel said the founding coalition agreement had been undermined, thanks to a “complete breakdown of trust between the parties”.
“The issue of personality and powermongering has subsumed every other consideration.”
It said the public spats between the two were unacceptable and that the situation had been made impossible.
In fact, the panel said it was concerned that shortly after the parties had agreed on a way forward last week, both Trollip and Bobani continued to breach the terms agreed upon.
It said Trollip’s media statements last week were not only a breach of the agreement but had added fuel to the fire, while Bobani’s organising of a protest by supporters outside the council chambers had undermined the leaders’ decision.
“Both actions were disgraceful,” the report said.
The coalition agreement was to place the people of the city at the centre of service delivery.
Yet the panel found “the issue of one’s preferred candidates to fill posts became a two-way tug of war eclipsing the above considerations. The cause of the poor fell by the wayside”.
It found that behaviour such as shouting, swearing at and accusing staff was unacceptable and should be referred to disciplinary structures.
So was the leaking to the media of recordings of meetings, in which Bobani could be heard making threats.