Manyati gives his reasons for rogue vote
Institutionalised racism, violent evictions and a blatant disregard for the poor.
These are just some of the reasons former DA councillor Mbulelo Manyati has put forward in court papers explaining his decision not to vote along the party line two weeks ago, which he described as a “peaceful protest” against entrenched racism.
In papers opposing the bid by the DA and its coalition partners – COPE, the ACDP and the Patriotic Alliance – Manyati has lodged a counter-application asking the judge to declare his dismissal from the DA unlawful.
He also wants his replacement declared illegal.
The events of the August 27 council meeting are set to be thrashed out in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.
The DA and its coalition partners have asked the court to review and set aside the decisions taken at that meeting, which saw the election of a new political leadership.
They also ask that co-operative governance MEC Fikile Xasa’s decision to send an official‚ Jenny Roestorff‚ to preside over the election of a speaker in the council be reviewed and set aside.
Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani along with the other respondents – deputy mayor Thsonono Buyeye, speaker Buyelwa Mafaya and chief whip Bicks Ndoni – said that as far as they were concerned, the meeting at which they were elected was a legal sitting with a 61-member quorum.
Mayor Athol Trollip and former chief whip Werner Senekal were ousted at that meeting.
The other respondents filed their papers on Friday, while Manyati and Xasa filed theirs later.
Xasa, who instructed Roestorff to preside over the election of a new council speaker after Jonathan Lawack was removed, reiterated in his papers that he had acted in accordance with the powers vested in him and believed it was not contrary to the law.
“In my view, it was also in the public interest to intervene in the circumstances,” he says.
Xasa says he received a letter from several councillors asking him to intervene because city manager Johann Mettler was refusing to preside over the council meeting.
Xasa says there was no basis for urgency, so the application should be dismissed.
Meanwhile, in his answering affidavit, Manyati said Mettler’s declaration of a vacancy in the council, after the DA said it had terminated his membership, was “patently unlawful”.
“[His] conduct amounts to rewriting the law,” he says.
As far as he is concerned, he is still a member and is fighting the decision to fire him.
On Thursday, the DA replaced Manyati with university student Lutho Sokudela, who was sworn in by Mettler.
Manyati says that over the past two years as a DA councillor he found there was more anti-black racism within the party than he had thought.
“It is entrenched and institutionalised.”
He says he continuously complained about the “seemingly skewed patterns of service delivery”, claiming that much more money was spent in so-called white suburbs compared with predominantly black townships.
“I also complained about the indiscriminate and kneejerk, sometimes violent, evictions of those residents who occupied vacant and unused land due to the epidemic levels of homelessness among the black communities.”
He says he threatened to leave the DA a number of times if racism was not dealt with.
However, he says he never intended to actually follow through with his threats.
“At no stage, did I intend to leave the DA in the foreseeable future if it dealt decisively with racism and the pervasive unhappiness of its black members, especially Africans.
“Having failed with my attempts and those of others to address racism within the DA internally, as well as racially skewed patterns of service delivery, I decided to stage a protest by exercising my rights, including abstaining from the vote against the removal of the DA speaker of council and to subsequently vote in favour of change in the council.
“This was meant to highlight my own and other black people’s dissatisfaction with the failure of the party to take us seriously and as equals.
“My protest was solely driven by my conscience.
“I am an avid believer in the right to peaceful protest.”
DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga called Manyati a pathological liar, saying he had never raised any concerns of racism within the DA.
“The only concern he raised was how the ANC had destroyed his life,” Bhanga said.