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Will the real Nelson Mandela Bay mayor please stand up?

Residents still in dark after DA and coalition parties go to court for review of Trollip’s ousting


It will be about two weeks – at least – before residents of Nelson Mandela Bay know who their rightful mayor is.
This after the DA and its coalition partners filed court papers on Friday asking that decisions taken at Monday’s council meeting – where Athol Trollip was unceremoniously ousted as mayor – be reviewed and set aside.
The court application follows a tumultuous week in the Bay where both Trollip and the U DM ’s Mongameli Bobani claimed they were the metro’s executive mayor.
Bobani was voted in as mayor on Monday afternoon – a move the DA said was illegal.
The opposition has been given until Tuesday to indicate whether or not it will oppose the DA’s motion – something Bobani said it certainly would.
Saying he had not received a summons yet and when it arrived municipal lawyers would deal with the matter, Bobani added: “We ’re unshaken. “The DA doesn’t want to accept defeat because they lost.
“We are moving forward, we are governing and focused on Ironman, which is a success.
“We ’re not worried about the DA’s publicity stunt because everything was done within the prescripts of the law.”
The controversy in council began with the removal of council speaker Jonathan Lawack following a motion of no confidence tabled by Bobani.
DA councillor Victor Manyati, in a shock move, refused to join his DA counterparts in defence of Lawack, leading to the speaker being ousted in a motion supported by the ANC, EFF, UDM and United Front.
The DA immediately terminated Manyati’s membership, leaving the meeting before a vote of no confidence in Trollip could be tabled.
Announcing a vacancy in the DA, municipal manager Johann Mettler adjourned the meeting, saying no quorum existed.
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa, however, demanded the province’s cooperative governance MEC, Fikile Xasa, deploy an official to oversee the election of the new speaker.
The MEC deployed head of department Jenny Roestorff.
ANC councillor Buyela Mafaya was elected speaker to oversee the motion of no confidence in Trollip.
With Manyati still in council chambers and willing to vote with the opposition, Trollip was out and Bobani in, along with a new mayoral committee.
All the respondents including Xasa, Bobani, the ANC, EFF, UDM, AIC and eight others have until Tuesday to indicate if they wish to oppose the urgent application.
Should they oppose the notice of motion, they have until
Friday to submit answering affidavits before the matter can be heard.
Legal representatives Olav Harald Ronaasen SC and Graham Richards for the DA-led coalition partners, instructed by attorney Lunen Meyer, have requested the matter be heard in court by September 13.
In a certificate of urgency before the court, the coalition partners are asking it to take the following action:
● Set aside Xasa’s decision to assign Roestorff to preside over Monday ’s meeting;
● That Roestorff ‘s actions and decisions in presiding over the meeting be set aside;
● That Monday’s meeting from the point it was presided over by Roestorff and then Mafaya be declared unlawful and void. That would include all decisions taken at the meeting;
● That the election of Mafaya be set aside.
Xasa said he would challenge the matter in court.
He said he had not seen the court papers as the co-operative governance department’s legal team was studying them.
“Any issues they are raising will be refuted by our legal team – we were guided by law.”
Trollip, in the papers before court, said that shortly after Lawack was removed as speaker, then chief whip Werner Senekal submitted a nomination form to the council secretariat with Lawack’s name for the position of speaker.
It was signed by Lawack. That nomination was not considered by Roestorff when she later ruled that Mafaya was the only nomination received for the position of speaker.
Trollip also argues that Manyati – who abstained from voting when the motion against Lawack was tabled, which ultimately enabled his removal – was removed as councillor after he was informed of the party’s decision to terminate his membership at the meeting.
He said this meant Manyati was no longer a councillor and thus should not have been counted as a councillor to make up a 61-member quorum needed to hold a council meeting after the DA and coalition partners walked out the chamber.
Meanwhile, at an ANC press conference at Florence Matomela House on Friday, the party ’s acting regional chairman, Phumzile Tshuni, encouraged other parties to join the new coalition because the DA-led coalition had failed the people of the metro “dismally ”.
Tshuni said the DA had displayed “white arrogance” and the new coalition partners had taken a stand against the party when they voted the DA-led coalition out on Monday.
Mettler – fellow respondent in the matter – said he would get legal advice. “I currently hold the view that I will not be responding ,” he said.
The EFF’s Zilindile Vena said it had not yet seen the papers but “we are ready for them and once we have seen the papers we will embarrass them”.
AIC councillor and new deputy mayor Thsonono Buyeye said it was hard for him to comment on papers he had not seen but maintained that the opposition parties had followed the law.
DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga said: “This application took time. The affidavits we put in our argument are very firm, those who don’t respect the rules and the institution are going to be exposed.
“Mayor Athol Trollip remains the mayor.”
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