‘Leaked’ report haunts Trollip

Fighting for his political life on two fronts, mayor also faces disciplinary action demand

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip
Image: Brian Witbooi

As he fights over the next few days to keep his two jobs, another battle lies ahead for Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip, with the ANC gunning for him to be disciplined for allegedly leaking confidential municipal reports. Trollip is accused of transgressing the council rules by handing over draft forensic reports to DA leader Mmusi Maimane last year at the height of the tense standoff between the mayor and his then deputy, Mongameli Bobani, of the UDM.

The reports, compiled by auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), allegedly contain damning evidence of impropriety by Bobani while he was at the helm of the public health department.

The reports, however, have yet to be made public.

The news comes as Trollip battles it out against two of his colleagues to retain the DA’s federal chairperson position, and he faces a motion of no confidence from the EFF at a special council meeting on Tuesday.

Adding to his woes, the ANC’s Rory Riordan believes Trollip should be disciplined by speaker Jonathan Lawack for allegedly transgressing Rule 13 of the council’s Rules of Order.

The rule states that in dealing with reports or agenda items that deal with matters relating to the conditions of service or other personal affairs of an official or councillor, there is an expectation of privacy and thus the items should be placed on green paper and be heard in the absence of the public and the media.

In a motion to the council, which is only expected to be debated at a full council sitting next month, Riordan takes issue with the fact that Maimane, who is not a member of council, was in possession of the two confidential reports.

City manager Johann Mettler responded to questions from Riordan that the reports were not formally released to Maimane and that he had not given any authority for them to be released.

Trollip conceded in a letter to Mettler dated September 11 last year that he had sent the draft report to his party leadership.

The letter seen by Weekend Post, which was printed in the confidential section of the council agenda of September 21 2017, states: “I previously had raised my concerns around alleged and perceived irregularities in the department of public health under the leadership of the then deputy executive mayor, councillor Bobani, to the leaders of the respective parties in our co-governance agreement.

In these meetings I was asked to provide the reports or evidence of such irregularities.

“When I received the draft report compiled by PwC from the city manager, I sent them to my party leadership in order that they could get an insight into my concerns and that they should allow access to the respective co-governance leaders for the same reason.”

He said he believed the draft Deloitte report on the probe into the Integrated Public Transport System was handled the same way by the ANC administration.

“It was sent to their party leadership and [I] assume this is also how the contents of that report ended up being written about by Dr Crispian Olver of the ANC [in his book How to Steal a City].”
Asked yesterday if he had leaked the reports to Maimane and knowingly broken the council rules, Trollip replied: “I certainly did not leak the report to Mr Maimane or the leaders of our coalition partners.

“I report to my party leadership and in a coalition to the coalition partners. When I raised concerns about the issues under councillor Bobani’s stewardship, it was Bantu Holomisa who requested the evidence/ report.

“When given to him, he said Mr Maimane and I kept it in our briefcases.”

Asked why his response differed to that given in his letter to Mettler, Trollip said he did not regard his actions as leaking.

“A leak implies secrecy/concealed disclosure.

“My response to Mr Mettler was an open acknowledgement that I’d sent it to my party leader and leaders of our coalition.

“My response is public and for the record,” Trollip said.

He said he did not believe that he had broken any council rules.

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong or anything that wasn’t done in the past.

“I’m happy to represent the reasons for my actions if necessary and this must apply to all other such cases,” he said.

Riordan wants the council to insist that Lawack starts disciplinary action against Trollip, saying the speaker has been “unwilling to do his duty”.

This was as his letter requesting Lawack to begin an appropriate disciplinary process against Trollip was denied.

Lawack would not be drawn on the matter this week, saying he could not discuss agenda items that had yet to be served before the council.

He said, however, that if the council agreed that Trollip should be disciplined, the matter would be sent to the rules and ethics committee for investigation. It would then make recommendations to council, which would decide on a way forward.