Bobani on best behaviour after warning from UDM

UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani cut a subdued figure in the Nelson Mandela Bay council

A subdued UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani, centre, during the meeting called to debate a motion of no-confidence in mayor Athol Trollip.
A subdued UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani, centre, during the meeting called to debate a motion of no-confidence in mayor Athol Trollip.
Image: Werner Hills

With his wings clipped and the threat of a recall hanging over his head, UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani cut a subdued figure in the Nelson Mandela Bay council yesterday.

This was a far cry from his rowdy and boisterous demeanour at the last council meeting two weeks ago, where he was involved in a scuffle with COPE MP Deidre Carter and shouting matches with speaker Jonathan Lawack and DA councillor Johnny Arends.

It emerged yesterday that although Bobani apologised to Carter, he was on thin ice with his national bosses who gave him a final warning to change his behaviour or face being recalled by the party.

UDM president Bantu Holomisa shared on social media the letter sent to Bobani warning him to moderate his behaviour at yesterday’s meeting.

The special council meeting as well as the subsequent ordinary sitting on March 29, descended into a chaotic screaming match between parties.

At yesterday’s meeting, Bobani only spoke when paying tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

He was silent during the rest of the meeting, even as things became heated between Lawack and the EFF and ANC.

In UDM secretary-general Bongani Msomi’s letter to Bobani, he wrote that the party’s national office management committee took a dim view of his conduct at the last meeting.

He reminded Bobani of the UDM’s code of ethics, conduct and obligations as a public representative, in that he should not bring the party into disrepute or embarrass it.

“We have understood that the speaker, councillor Jonathan Lawack, also conducted himself in a dubious manner, which exacerbated the ruckus in the chamber, which led to chaos breaking out.” Msomi wrote.

“You must, however, at all times (whether in chamber or not) preserve the UDM’s vision, mission, values, dignity and image.

“There is also a case of ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. As much as Councillors [Athol] Trollip and Lawack had not conducted themselves as perfect gentlemen, it does not become you to take the bait or try to provoke them.

“We remind you that the three-person committee, of the coalition partners, pointed fingers at both you and Councillor Trollip in their initial investigation and recommendations.
“That said, the [management committee] has discussed your work in the name of the UDM, even since your previous tenure as councillor.

“There are several examples where your tenacity stood you in good stead, but [the management committee] takes issue with your manner and style of engagement.

“Notwithstanding your apologies and your realisation that your behaviour fell short of the UDM’s standards, the [committee] wishes to remind you of what we all must adhere to in terms of the party’s constitutional prescripts.”

He wrote that Bobani had received a phone call from Holomisa, during the March 29 sitting, warning and instructing him to tone down his behaviour.

“What happened that day, even if it might have been provoked or orchestrated, is not the way the UDM public representatives conduct themselves – we cannot afford to ever again repeat this embarrassing situation,” Msomi wrote.

“We therefore urge you to adopt a new style of speaking to, and communication with your council colleagues, the media and the public.

“This is the last opportunity you will be given to change your behaviour and modus operandi, failing which, the UDM will automatically recall you and institute disciplinary measures.

“There certainly are better ways to register your dissatisfaction with any council process, especially when you disagree during the debate and/or to register (and have minuted) the UDM’s position.

“Henceforth, when you wish to join the debate, raise your hand and do not shout when presenting your case.”

Going forward, Bobani has to consult Msomi’s office as well as the Eastern Cape provincial executive committee to discuss strategies ahead of council meetings.

Bobani was instructed to also share council documents, memos and agendas with Msomi as soon as he received them.

He would not comment on Msomi’s letter, saying only that he had adhered to everything requested from his bosses.

“The UDM has always been vocal in council, and it will continue playing its role in exposing corruption as well as the speaker’s transgressions in council,” Bobani said.