Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip had the last laugh yesterday when a bid to remove him by two of his fiercest rivals bombed.
Amid a stormy council meeting, the last for the year, Trollip saw a motion for a vote of no confidence in him, brought by PA councillor Marlon Daniels and seconded by UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani, defeated by 65 votes to 54.
In the end, the EFF – essentially kingmakers in council – went with the DA-led coalition and voted against the attempted oustings. The motion to remove Trollip was supported by the ANC, United Front and AIC.
Council speaker Jonathan Lawack survived a similar motion – and then to rub it in, Trollip tasted yet another victory when the same parties sided with him in a vote to have the deputy mayor position made redundant.
It was this position that Bobani held briefly before Trollip sacked him and it was the same vacant post that Daniels had tried desperately to take for himself in a failed coalition agreement with the DA. “Those two people [Daniels and Bobani] at the back just make the most unfounded allegations,” Trollip said.
“I think their credibility has gone out the window. They lost that with me a long time ago, but now the public can also see.”
He said he had been confident that sanity and sense would prevail.
“I did not take this vote of no confidence lightly, but the sponsors of the motion did so on completely spurious reasons and had formed a coalition of the aggrieved.”
Trollip said he respected the EFF for its decision.
“I think they saw through all of this.”
Bobani vowed to table another motion against Trollip for the next council meeting.
Speaking about their decision to side with the DA, EFF council leader Zilindile Vena said the party would never support the ANC while it harboured “crooks ”.
“The day for Athol Trollip to be removed is coming, but today is not the day. “The EFF will never vote for the ANC while it still has crooks who are getting paid by the Guptas and are facing criminal charges.”
Aside from the failed motion of no confidence vote against Trollip, the city council passed numerous items on the agenda yesterday.
While some were quickly passed, a few stirred up heated debate.
A proposal by Trollip that a moratorium be placed on the overtime policy for six months was agreed upon.
The moratorium will allow for consultations with unions and workers while also ensuring an uninterrupted supply of electricity and water during the December holidays.
United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila said he understood that municipal officials had said having the policy rescinded would be unlawful.
“But your spin-doctor solutions are not going to work out,” he said.
“We experience water cuts personally as they happen. We know how it feels.
“The only solution is to rescind the policy and return to the original arrangement, but we need to correct things in terms of what the auditor-general recommended.”
A standoff between workers and the municipality started on October 1, when the new policy came into effect.
Previously, employees – regardless of what they earned – could claim time and a half for each hour of overtime worked on Saturdays and double time for work on Sundays.
Workers can still claim, with the exception of those who earn above the R205 433 threshold.
Parts of the city were without water and electricity for at least four weekends and Trollip linked this to sabotage due to the overtime issue.
Litter picker programme
The number of litter pickers employed through the Extended Public Works Programme will be reduced from 865 to 440.
Trollip said the number had to be reduced to allow the litter pickers to earn a decent wage.
Before the vote, ANC councillor Queenie Pink said the party did not agree on the item.
Another ANC councillor, Mvuzo Mbekelane, agreed.
“I don’t agree with the cutting of jobs and I suggest that we use money set aside for Ironman to pay litter pickers,” he said.
The council gave the green light for a 250MW solar electricity generation project to supplement the electricity provided by Eskom.
Speaker Jonathan Lawack suggested the electricity and energy directorate conduct a workshop with councillors to explain the roll-out of the proposal.
The council agenda said the project would help the municipality deliver cost-effective electricity.
“These small systems appear to be having a far greater impact on the revenue streams of municipalities than was ever envisaged,” the item said.
The council agreed to a recommendation by city manager Johann Mettler that permission be granted to Trollip to decide on salary increases for next year if the government gazette published the upper limit of those increases while the council was in recess.