Opposition threat over meeting to oust mayor
Councillors vow to have own sitting if vote denied
Some of the opposition parties who want Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip removed have threatened to hold their own council meeting if speaker Jonathan Lawack does not agree to their demand of a meeting on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to Lawack on Friday, the opposition parties threatened to hold a council meeting a day earlier than the one scheduled for Thursday.
But cracks have already started to show in the camp that wants to remove Trollip, with PA councillor Marlon Daniels and AIC councillor Tshonono Buyeye saying they have not seen the letter – despite their names being listed.
The three-page letter has the names of six councillors, namely Daniels, Buyeye, Zilindile Vena of the EFF, Mbulelo Gidane of the ANC, Mongameli Bobani of the UDM and Mkhuseli Mtsila of the United Front.
“If the speaker fails to respect the provisions of section 29 of the Structures Act, and further fails to call and convene the legitimate meeting in terms of the relevant provisions, the majority of councillors who requested the said meeting shall convene such meeting, and shall diligently continue with the meeting and conduct its council business in terms of the principles of legality and rules of council,” the letter reads.
“We wish the speaker to note that we are acting in the best interest of the people of the metro.
“We do not want any more further delays in concluding this council’s business.”
But when asked about the letter, Daniels distanced himself from the request for an early council meeting.
“I’m not part of that,” he said.
“That is from Bobani. My name is there without my conwill sent. If there is a meeting scheduled for Thursday, I don’t see the logic of having that special council meeting on Wednesday.”
Buyeye said: “I am aware of [the letter], but I cannot really comment as I haven’t seen it and hence my signature is not on it.”
Bobani said he was not aware of any councillors who had not seen the letter.
Lawack indicated that his office had received the letter, but said he would have to consider the request in line with the rules of council.
“If it doesn’t meet the requirements you know what happen,” Lawack said.
“According to rule 4.2, it should be that, upon receipt of the request, the meeting cannot take place before five business days have passed.”
But Bobani in turn said that section 29 of the Municipal Systems Act – which states that the speaker must convene a council meeting if requested to do so by the majority of councillors – should supersede the rule Lawack was citing.
Bobani also indicated that all 61 councillors of the opposition parties would be in attendance on Wednesday, whether the meeting was approved by Lawack or not.
“We will ensure that all 61 are there,” Bobani said, dismissing claims that an opposition councillor had been admitted to hospital and would be unable to attend.
Vena said the EFF's members supported the request for an earlier meeting.
“If the request is granted, we will all attend,” Vena said.“One thing I know is that the meeting on the 16th will be a long one, it might run into the [next day]. Discussing these motions on a separate day ... ensures that we will get to the business [of the regular council meeting].”
Gidane referred queries to ANC regional secretary Themba Xatula, who could not be reached for comment.
The opposition parties – the ANC, EFF, PA, African Independent Congress (AIC), UDM and the United Front (UF) – hold 61 of the 120 seats in the council.
The DA, the Congress of the People (COPE) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) have a total of 59.
Mtsila said the purpose of the meeting would be to vote out Trollip, Lawack, chief whip Werner Senekal and all the mayoral committee members.
“We want to elect a new cabinet,” Mtsila said.
“We have submitted a petition. Within the spirit of the Municipal Systems Act, if the opposition parties petition the speaker he is duty-bound to respond accordingly.
“We have to [go ahead with the meeting]. The speaker will be violating the law if we are not granted the meeting.”
He said the parties’ national leadership still had to finalise who would be mayor.
The national leaders of all six opposition parties met last week and voted to put forth Daniels as mayoral candidate, but Daniels withdrew his candidacy a day later after the EFF refused to support the decision.
PA president Gayton McKenzie said last week that Bobani had been another potential candidate.
However, when asked about who the new candidate would be, UDM president Bantu Holomisa on Sunday simply said: “I have no clue.”