Attempts to unseat Trollip drag on

EFF withdraws motion due to low numbers – then makes fresh move

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip
Image: Brian Witbooi

Just when you thought it was finally done with its pursuit to unseat Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip, the EFF is gearing up to table a fresh no-confidence bid in two weeks’ time.

The party planned to push for a vote by way of secret ballot, EFF leader Julius Malema said yesterday.

It earlier withdrew its motion in the council upon seeing the numbers were not on its side, but submitted a fresh motion a couple of hours later.

The DA made sure all its members were in attendance, even dragging DA councillor Lodewyk Gallant from his hospital bed to ensure it had the numbers.

Gallant was admitted to Mercantile Hospital at 4am yesterday due to stomach problems.

He said he had asked his colleagues to fetch him at the hospital to ensure he was at the meeting for the vote.

“I knew that the meeting was critical and I asked my colleagues to come and fetch me from the hospital,” Gallant said. He returned to the hospital after the meeting.

Despite a failed attempt to get a day off from his fraud trial on Wednesday, DA councillor Mbulelo Manyati also showed up for the all-important meeting.

Together, the DA, COPE, ACDP and Patriotic Alliance had a 60-seat majority in a council with a total of 120 seats.

The opposition – ANC, EFF, UDM, AIC and United Front – were four people short, including the two ANC councillors, Andile Lungisa and Bongo Nombiba, who were recently sentenced to prison.

EFF councillor Lukhanyo Mrara and ANC councillor Mazangwa Dano were not at the meeting as they were running late.

This left the opposition’s support at 56 seats.

The opposition, which had submitted a flurry of motions to be debated yesterday, withdrew them all at the special meeting which lasted less than 20 minutes.

It was the third attempt after the last two sittings were adjourned when the meetings descended into chaos.

The motions included the removal of chief whip Werner Senekal and speaker Jonathan Lawack, the removal of all mayoral committee members, and that the council rescind its decision to do away with the deputy mayor position.

EFF caucus leader councillor Zilindile Vena said he had submitted a fresh motion to remove Trollip at the council’s scheduled May 24 meeting.

At the meeting, Vena said: “After analysing the balance of forces and the conditions on the ground here, our politics dictates to us here that as much as we are convinced that councillor Trollip must be removed, must vacate that office, we hold the view that today is not his day.

“We will further pursue the matter but not today, therefore we are withdrawing the item and we would like it not to be discussed today.”

He later retracted, claiming he had not withdrawn the motion but had merely postponed it to May 24.

“We have postponed it to make sure we submit our motion for that day because we know that everything will be fine on that day.” Vena said by then the opposition would have regained its lost numbers.

“Nombiba will petition the high court, Lungisa will also petition the high court or his party will replace him.

“Without divulging any details we are sure about May 24.

“There are a lot of things at play. The balance of forces changes.”

Lungisa, who was a PR councillor, can be replaced with another ANC candidate, while Nombiba – who was the Ward 20 councillor – can only be replaced through a by-election.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani said the party would pursue its motion to remove Senekal at a later time.

“The UDM is withdrawing the item. Because of the material conditions the UDM is also withdrawing but we will come back.”

ANC chief whip Litho Suka said the only way forward was to reintroduce the motions at a later date.

“Because we could see the numbers were not in our favour, especially with two of our councillors in prison, we had to go back and rework our strategy around this issue of the motions and negotiate with each other,” Suka said.

United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila withdrew his motion to rescind the council position to dissolve the office of the deputy mayor.

Mtsila said the UF would like to “tactically retreat” its motion.

He said the developments from the convictions of ANC councillors were the reason for the withdrawal.

“We couldn’t go in there knowing we did not have the numbers and so we knew we had to withdraw and regroup.”

Trollip described yesterday’s meeting as “the elephant giving birth to a flea”.

“We have been wanting this debate, despite our feeling that they can’t do it.

“It’s a complete waste of time – there is no reason for the motion other than Julius Malema saying he wants to remove me. They don’t have the support, they don’t have the numbers,” Trollip said.