Mayor Athol Trollip’s firing this week of Mongameli Bobani as a member of the mayoral committee heading the public health portfolio is the clearest sign yet that the coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay is in a world of hurt.
Pressure between these two political veterans has built up over many months and finally the boil has burst.
The general lack of trust and increasingly poisonous allegations between the mayor, his deputy and others for whom Bobani has had his knife in has eroded – and now all but annihilated – a relationship that was rocky almost from the start.
Though the UDM’s Bobani will remain deputy mayor until the full council decides otherwise, Trollip has mentioned plans to table a motion in council to have him stripped of this title as well.
Of course the DA, with its COPE and ACDP coalition partners, will need the backing of other opposition parties to pass the motion. The next council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, will surely deliver fireworks.
The increasingly tense situation in the Bay will almost certainly impact the relationship between the UDM and DA at a national level. The UDM’s president, Bantu Holomisa, has already indicated his immense displeasure at having been given an ultimatum by the DA’s James Selfe to expel Bobani and replace him with someone else.
The people of Nelson Mandela Bay are not served in any way by the mess this metro finds itself in. When the city bosses’ focus and attention are constantly being diverted as a result of political and personality clashes, ordinary citizens will invariably pay the price.
For instance, at a time when the metro should be preparing to pass the budget, Trollip and Bobani’s looming divorce will top the agenda instead, come Tuesday.
Another interesting aspect to the dramatic developments has been the stance of the ANC, the official opposition in the Bay, on the matter.
They insist they are not in talks with other opposition parties to form a coalition in the Bay should the existing coalition government collapse.
But despite ANC caucus leader Bicks Ndoni’s statement on Tuesday that the ANC was being “very careful and cautious”, you can be sure all the little cogs are spinning furiously at this point. This is bound to be a week of intense, behind-thescenes lobbying.