UDM leader Bantu Holomisa reaffirmed his party’s commitment to the coalition government in charge of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro council.
Addressing hundreds of UDM supporters in Kwazakhele, Holomisa said tensions between mayor Athol Trollip and his deputy, Mongameli Bobani, had been blown out of proportion by the ANC, which had yet to come to terms with its loss.
“That is why they [the ANC] were quick [to talk about] a premature motion of no confidence,” he said.
Holomisa also had harsh words for councillors who spoke to the media.
“I don’t want to hear through the media when there are problems with the coalition. There are UDM structures, provincial and national, that should deal with these matters.”
He reiterated the importance of dialogue when there were differences in a coalition.
“Deal very cautiously with your differences, try to resolve matters locally, but if you can’t handle them bring them to us before we read about them in the media.”
Holomisa said residents would start to see change when the council tabled its own budget.
“We must ensure that Trollip won’t seek to reward his constituency at the expense of the poor.”
Holomisa urged Bobani to remain the voice of the poor.
On the controversy that tested the strength of the coalition over the appointment of Johann Mettler as city manager, Holomisa said he believed proper processes were followed.
“We have heard of what he [Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa] said to the media, but he has not written back to the council after their explanation of the matter,” he said.
The UDM will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Johannesburg later this year.
The Nelson Mandela Bay region and Eastern Cape are set to elect leaders before the anniversary celebrations, in April and June respectively.
Asked about stepping down after 20 years at helm of UDM, Holomisa said: “I will leave when members don’t want me anymore. I have been a leader for only 20 years and I still have a lot to offer.”
Nelson Mandela Bay ANC caucus leader Bicks Ndoni hit back yesterday, saying Holomisa was doing damage control by playing down tensions.
“They must not blame us [ANC] because there are tensions there, it was clear when Bobani collapsed the council meeting,” Ndoni said.
The ANC as an opposition was within its rights to try and take advantage of the situation, he said.
“Any opposition party would have done the same.”