In just a few hours, Athol Trollip will know whether he is still the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. His fate is in the hands of six EFF councillors, who have been lobbied furiously by the parties on both sides of the no-confidence motion and played their cards close to their chests yesterday.
While other parties briefed the media on the planned vote of no confidence in Trollip and speaker Jonathan Lawack, the EFF held marathon talks ahead of the crucial vote.
Yesterday afternoon, EFF councillor Zilindile Vena said they had still to decide which way to go.
To succeed, the motion put forward by the Patriotic Alliance’s Marlon Daniels would need the support of the ANC, UDM, AIC and United Front – who make up 55 seats – as well as the EFF.
If the EFF votes in support of Trollip or abstains from voting altogether, the motion will not pass.
At a media conference yesterday, Daniels appeared with the UDM’s Mongameli Bobani and other smaller parties.
Daniels, who had previously sponsored a motion to remove Bobani as deputy mayor, said he had done so after Trollip poured him a glass of Jameson whiskey and misled him into believing that there was evidence of corruption against Bobani. “He paged through a folder and pointed at certain pages and said councillor Bobani must go,” Daniels said.
“He said Bobani took R1-million from the city and we could not have a guy of that calibre as deputy mayor.
“This was the very same week the Hawks were in the city for [fraud-accused former rugby administrator] Cheeky Watson and he said Bobani would be picked up now.
“That convinced me to believe that Bobani is corrupt.”
Trollip confirmed that the meeting over whiskey with Daniels had taken place after office hours in his office.
“The files all hold evidence that prompted my steps against councillor Bobani. This is not a secret, it’s in the public domain,” Trollip said.
Daniels warned the EFF that voting in favour of Trollip would go against the very fibre of the party’s manifesto as Trollip was the epitome of “white monopoly capital”.
UF councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila said the DA was public enemy number one and its policies and the ANC’s were the same as they supported neo-liberalism.
Mtsila claimed most council meetings ended in violence as Lawack did not have control, which was why they wanted him removed.
Daniels said that unlike the UF, they were not necessarily going after the DA as a party but after Trollip.
At a media briefing held by the mayoral committee yesterday, the DA and its coalition partners COPE and the ACDP declared their support for Trollip and Lawack.
“We are very confident and convinced that this vote of no confidence – which is brought to us by angry people who do not understand what good governance is all about – is not going to succeed,” mayoral committee member Nqaba Bhanga said. “[Today] it’s business as usual. We’re having a council meeting to discuss issues that relate to service delivery. “We will finish that [council] meeting with Athol Trollip as the executive mayor, Jonathan Lawack [as the] speaker, because there are reasonable people in that council.
“The councillors understand the importance of us continuing this project of changing South Africa.
“We’re talking to our partners at a national level all the time.
“We are also engaging parties at a local level who understand this is not a personal matter.
“I’m not going to tell you who we are talking to, but I’m telling you I’m very confident.”
He also lambasted Bobani, calling him a crybaby and attention-seeker.
COPE’s Siyasanga Sijadu has attributed the tension to “personality politics” within the council.
“This turmoil has nothing to do with BESIDES the motion of no confidence, a number of important items need to be decided by the council today. These include:
Whether or not to appoint councillor Mongameli Bobani to the municipal public accounts committee. A vacancy was left earlier this month when Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels indicated he was no longer willing to serve on the committee. As Bobani is not a member of a standing committee at present, the council must discuss whether he should be appointed to fill the vacancy;
Councillor remuneration – the city manager recommends that the council grant permission to the mayor to make a decision on salary increases for next year if the government gazette publishes the upper limit of these increases while the council is in recess next month;
Forced evictions – ANC councillor Rory Riordan will put forth a motion to review the court order that allowed the municipality to evict residents who had occupied municipal land in Wells Estate, Motherwell;
Municipal workers overtime policy – councillors will debate whether to rescind the overtime policy implemented in May. Since the policy was implemented, municipal officials have refused to work over weekends, hampering service delivery;
Solar electricity – the council will debate whether or not to give the green light for a 250MW solar electricity generation project to supplement the electricity provided by Eskom; and
Ironman – Riordan has asked the council to present the Host City Agreement for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships at the next council meeting, to be held next year.
The report outlines the metro’s responsibilities ahead of the championship in September next year.
He also wants a report to be tabled detailing the cost involved in these responsibilities and how the process of seeking funding for R200-million worth of roadworks is faring.