EFF digs in on secret ballot

Party threatens court action if speaker Lawack does not accede to request

Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels and Zilindile Vena from the EFF discuss the vote of no confidence in council
Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels and Zilindile Vena from the EFF discuss the vote of no confidence in council
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The EFF has formally requested that councillors be allowed to vote by secret ballot in the motion of no confidence against Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip next week.

Should speaker Jonathan Lawack – to whom the request has been made – not grant this, the party says, it will take legal action to challenge the rationality of his decision.

The party also said the speaker did not have the casting vote in the event of a tie during voting.

It said there was legal precedence which stated that on weighty issues – such as the election of a mayor – the legislation provided for methods to break a tie, other than the speaker’s casting vote.

EFF councillor Zilindile Vena said the party was still waiting for Lawack to respond. “Our letter to the speaker states that the EFF reserves the right to pursue legal action and he [Lawack] knows this, which is why he is delaying,” Vena said.

“He wants to make sure that we don’t have time to go to court . . . hence he’s withholding his response deliberately to buy time.”

Leading up to Tuesday’s special council meeting, Vena said the EFF was talking to all councillors to persuade them to “do the right thing”.

“Every man and woman in that council has the right to vote with their conscience,” he said.

Lawack confirmed the EFF had submitted its request for a secret ballot, but would not say what his decision was.

Last Thursday, a special council meeting was scheduled to debate six motions including a vote of no confidence in Trollip, the removal of Lawack and chief whip in council Werner Senekal, and a motion to rescind the council decision that had the deputy mayor position removed.

The meeting was delayed after chaos erupted in council chambers which led to the speaker walking out and adjourning that session of the meeting indefinitely.

Following the announcement that his party would vote with the DA mere hours ahead of the vote of no confidence in Trollip, African Independent Congress (AIC) president Mandla Galo said nothing had changed.

“We gave an instruction to councillor [Tshonono] Buyeye to vote with the DA and our decision stands,” Galo said.

He said the AIC was highly disturbed by the ANC leadership in the Eastern Cape after it had failed on its promise to move Matatiele back into KwaZulu-Natal.


We’re going to punish the ANC
Mandla Galo

“We’re going to punish the ANC and we’re also going to withdraw our motion to have the speaker removed.”

Galo said his party was not in a partnership with the DA – but would continue to support it – as it was already in a coalition with the ANC in the province and “this still stands”.

United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila said his party would withdraw its motion to have the deputy mayor position reinstated as it would not support the advancement of the Patriotic Alliance (PA).

“We won’t make it possible for the PA to get this position through our motion as we weren’t part of their discussions when the DA offered this position to [PA councillor Marlon Daniels] when persuading him to vote with Trollip,” Mtsila said.

Daniels said following his party’s decision to vote with the DA: “No one within the black caucus is talking to me. They’re not taking my calls but I always say I won’t knock at a closed door if the latch is on the inside.

“The ANC and EFF are romancing each other ahead of the 2019 elections. What we’re seeing is that if the ANC doesn’t get 50% in the elections, it will most likely team up with the EFF to run the country.

“If the ANC and EFF govern this country, I will try to get hold of the Australian embassy to see if I can go and live there because this country would go down the drain,” Daniels said.

Asked whether the United Front’s withdrawal of its motion to reinstate the office of the deputy mayor could delay his hopes of filling the position, Daniels said: “We’re not rushed to take up the office of the deputy mayor.

We’ve been waiting in the wings for this. But as long as there is an in-principle agreement, the implementation of that agreement is something that can be worked on.”

Daniels said he had not yet taken up the position of mayoral committee member in charge of roads and transport, adding that Trollip was away on the campaign trail ahead of the DA national congress.

“We’ve got no issue for him [Trollip] to come when he’s ready.’’

Daniels said they did not expect Lawack to accept the request for a secret ballot as he had turned down the same request when the last motion of no confidence was tabled against Trollip in November.

The UDM’s Mongameli Bobani said his party was forging ahead with its motion to have Senekal removed because “that chief whip only listens to Trollip”.

ANC regional secretary Themba Xathula said they were going ahead with their motion to appoint a deputy mayor and would continue to support the EFF to have Trollip removed.