Editorial | Disruption may bring city to halt

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality council meeting which was meant to decide on the fate of mayor Athol Trollip was 'permanently adjourned'.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality council meeting which was meant to decide on the fate of mayor Athol Trollip was 'permanently adjourned'.
Image: Werner Hills

The last two Nelson Mandela Bay special council meetings have been nothing short of dramatic.

The meetings descended into anarchy and the ugly scenes were played out on our television screens for the entire country to see.

What the nation now knows without a doubt is that the EFF, ANC, UDM and United Front want mayor Athol Trollip out of office at any cost, and if the balance of forces is not on their side, they will disrupt proceedings using any means.

It may be effective tactically, even if it is a crude debasement of due process.

What is worrying is that it sets the scene for what is likely to be an even more tumultuous road ahead.

The municipality is busy with its budget and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) processes. This is the most crucial period in its annual calendar as it is when it decides what projects to tackle in the year ahead and how much money to allocate to ensure the city keeps working.

With the political dynamics as they are – the DA and coalition partners ACDP, COPE and PA have a combined 60 seats out of 120 – it raises the prospect of neither the budget nor the IDP receiving council’s endorsement next month.
These are statutory requirements for any municipality to function.

The coalition would need the support of at least one councillor from the opposition to pass the documents.

Without that vote, the city would be plunged into a complete state of dysfunction.

Not only would this make it difficult for the municipality to keep the lights on and water flowing through the taps, it would imperil the salaries of about 7 000 municipal employees.

No one would benefit from such a situation.

It is, therefore, of paramount importance that sanity prevails.

Regardless of the political squabbles and ideological differences between the parties, these should not get in the way of service delivery.

The residents of our city, particularly the downtrodden, should not be made to suffer more than they already do. A real vote of conscience would seek to circumvent an eventuality like this.

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