Cracks in opposition could sink vote against Athol Trollip
Opposition parties run the risk of losing yet again
Opposition parties are set to finally show their hand on Thursday as to whether or not they will pursue a third attempt to remove Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip from power.
But in doing so, they run the risk of losing yet again as the Patriotic Alliance announced on Wednesday night it would not support their bid to remove him.
Party leaders of the AIC, ANC, United Front, EFF, UDM and Patriotic Alliance (PA) butted heads at a late-night meeting at the Boardwalk in Port Elizabeth, where they demanded to know why the EFF backtracked from a “democratic process” last week where it was decided that the PA’s Marlon Daniels be elected mayor.
Daniels, who is meant to sponsor the motion to oust Trollip at the council meeting, said on Wednesday that the decision was ultimately taken as a result of the impasse between the EFF and PA.He said the PA as well as other parties represented at the meeting were not happy with the way the EFF handled the meeting last week.
After the majority of parties agreed at a gathering among national leaders last week to support Daniels as the mayoral candidate, the EFF later sent out a statement saying it would never support a PA mayoral candidate.
The EFF said the PA was made up of “thugs” and “unrepentant fraudsters”.
Late on Wednesday night, Daniels said: “There were other parties that were not pleased with the way the EFF dealt with the processes last week.
“It was resolved that Trollip is going nowhere.”
He said there were no disputes, except some who said “next time, he’s going”.
“The EFF wanted [UDM councillor Mongameli] Bobani to be mayor but most of the parties were not in favour of that,” Daniels said.
The PA is still a member of the existing coalition government with the DA, ACDP and COPE,
It is not clear if the other opposition parties would pursue the vote against Trollip, speaker Jonathan Lawack and chief whip Werner Senekal on Thursday.
To do so, the parties would need 61 votes out of 120.
The DA, ACDP, COPE and PA have a combined 60 seats while the opposition parties – UDM, ANC, EFF, AIC and United Front – also have 60 seats.
To succeed in ousting Trollip, the opposition needs the help of lone PA councillor Daniels.
The AIC’s secretary-general, Mahlubi Jafta, said the decision to remove Trollip or not now rested solely on local councillors as the national party bosses could not agree on a mayoral candidate.
Jafta said it had decided to let the Bay council representatives deal with it.
After the meeting, Jafta said parties were not agreeing on a candidate, with some constantly changing their minds.Jafta said his party had agreed on Bobani for mayor but the EFF maintained its stance that it would not “vote for thugs” by supporting Daniels for deputy mayor.
Jafta maintained it would be voting for anyone that favoured previously disadvantaged communities, not what would favour the AIC.
“Honestly, I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow [Thursday],” Jafta said.
United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila said the EFF disrespected the national forum’s democratic processes by telling the media it would not vote for Daniels. Mtsila said the party bosses had agreed on Daniels and the EFF moved outside the forum processes because it had changed its mind.
“We can’t be held at gunpoint by the EFF when it comes to leading the metro because if we take over from Trollip, and they don’t like decisions taken, they’ll threaten to pull out each time and we can’t lead like that,” Mtsila said.
He said the parties were moving forward with the meeting but the deal was over.
“The EFF created a lot of confusion and threw everything into disarray,” he said.
Attempts to reach the EFF’s national leaders for comment were unsuccessful
While the PA stated boldly last week that it would support the bid to remove Trollip, Lawack and Senekal, its hostile relationship with the EFF is the big bone of contention, causing the party to stick with the DA, ACDP and COPE.
Insiders within the coalition were quietly confident on Wednesday that Trollip would survive.
They said talks between McKenzie and Trollip earlier this week had been positive.
A jovial-looking Trollip said on Wednesday he believed he would survive the motion.
Asked about his strategy, Trollip said he would not reveal any strategies to the media.
“There’s absolutely no good reason to replace this coalition government with a motion of no confidence,” he said.
“It’s their [opposition parties’] fourth or fifth time and they’ve never had the conviction or the courage or the numbers to do it, and I think [Thursday] will be the same.”
The DA’s Andy Jordan has submitted a motion to reinstate the office of the deputy mayor and to elect a new deputy for Trollip – a move seen to finally appease the PA which has been gunning for that position.Last month, Daniels said he wanted to pull out of the coalition as promises for jobs for the youth in the northern areas had not been fulfilled.
He said DA mayoral committee members John Best and Retief Odendaal had vowed to create jobs, but this was denied by the two when asked about the claim by The Herald’s sister publication, the Weekend Post.
This infuriated Daniels, who demanded that they all be subjected to lie-detector tests to establish who was telling the truth as he believed their denial discredited him.
Daniels said this week that Best and Odendaal had both since apologised and confirmed that he had, in fact, been telling the truth.
Best conceded that they had apologised to Daniels, saying they had discussed the issue of creating jobs for unemployed matriculants “and the fact that we need to look at jobs for all areas”.
“Yes, I apologised and if I had said anything that was misinterpreted, it was never my intention,” Best said.
Odendaal could not be reached for comment.
Opposition party insiders said they were hard at work on Wednesday trying to ensure their motions succeeded, even lobbying a few members of the DA caucus in case the PA turned...