They sent a threatening lawyer’s letter early yesterday in a desperate attempt to halt the council proceedings.
When that failed, the ANC councillors raised numerous points of order and objections about council procedure.
And when it finally sank in that they had lost control of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, the majority furiously stormed out of the meeting.
The upshot of the ANC’s fall from power in the Bay played out in and around Port Elizabeth’s Feather Market Centre for all to see, when – now the official opposition in the Bay – they could not control yesterday’s council proceedings.
The visibly angry ANC councillors, who arrived about 15 minutes after the meeting had already started, initially tried to get acting city manager Johann Mettler to stop the meeting, claiming some of their councillors were barred from entering the hall.
Outside the venue, former mayor Danny Jordaan quickly turned around before reaching the door of the hall when DA, UDM and COPE supporters jeered him and the reIn maining ANC contingent outside.
He walked away with fellow ANC councillor Rory Riordan towards the City Hall while the other parties’ supporters followed them, singing derogatory songs that referred to thieves stealing money meant for service delivery.
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa claimed Jordaan was unable to get inside as they had been locked out.
Large crowds gathered around the Feather Market Centre, many from the UDM, DA and COPE, to see the induction and election of the new coalition government.
There was a jovial mood outside the hall as hundreds of supporters celebrated the change of guard near the City Hall.
A door was broken when they tried to enter the packed hall.
The mood among the few ANC supporters who turned up was sombre, with some clearly shocked, and in a daze, about the new political guard that has taken over the running of City Hall.
Lungisa and fellow ANC councillors Bicks Ndoni, Litho Suka and Andile Mfunda, among others, were booed by the crowd when they pitched up after the council meeting had already started.
The six new EFF councillors stood out at the meeting in their trademark red overalls and aprons and were joined by their national chairman, MP Dali Mpofu.
United Front councillor Zanoxolo Wayile was the only councillor who submitted a leave of absence and did not attend.
Chaos erupted briefly when Lungisa and another ANC councillor, Ncediso Captain, arrived and demanded that Mettler stop the meeting, claiming their colleagues were not being allowed in.
Lungisa said the meeting could not continue and demanded that Mettler get up and instruct the security to open the door.
Mettler repeatedly urged Lungisa to sit down and then called out to the guards to let the councillors in.
The ANC councillors were heckled several times during the heated council meeting.
Earlier in the day, Mettler had received a letter from ANC lawyers, urging him to postpone the council meeting.
He confirmed receipt of the letter, which expressed the ANC’s dissatisfaction with the allocation of PR seats.
The ANC’s first Port Elizabeth mayor, Nceba Faku, who watched the proceedings from the gallery, waving his ANC-flag, said losing power in politics was inevitable.
“The threat of losing power always lingers in politics,” he said.
Of the ANC’s antics yesterday, Faku said: “I understand the ANC councillors’ state of disorganisation.
“It was their first council meeting in the opposition benches.
“Maybe they planned some of the things they did, but [they] were incorrectly executed.
“They should be taken for training, induction and orientation on being the opposition party,” he said.
“They will be empowered to psychologically accept the situation.”
An amused Mpofu said after the meeting: “The ANC is obviously not used to being in the opposition.
“They even tried a walk-out, which was unsuccessful.
“They must come to us to teach them how to be in the opposition.”