Durban – A deadlock on the hiring and firing of two municipal executives has put the DA-led coalition governing the Eastern Cape’s biggest metro of Nelson Mandela Bay on knife-edge – four months into its five-year term.
On Thursday, cracks began to show between the coalition partners after the UDM and other smaller opposition parties apparently staged a walkout during the first council meeting of the year at the Wool Board Exchange Building in Port Elizabeth.
This prompted the ANC regional structure to call a media briefing on the “collapse of the coalition government”.
DA mayor Athol Trollip told Independent Media that the council meeting was called to table two reports on the termination of services of corporate services boss Mod Ndoyana, and the appointment of reputed administrator and businesswoman Vuyo Zitumane to act in the position.
However, the meeting couldn’t proceed as the smaller opposition parties failed to pitch up, according to Trollip.
Trollip’s deputy, Mongameli Bobani of the UDM, told the media that they disagreed with processes followed to appoint city manager Johann Mettler and Zitumane.
He stated, however, that their disagreements did not signal “the end of the coalition government”, saying they needed to find each other.
“The UDM will not support anything that has corruption. We are a party that is transparent, that is accessible and that is corrupt-free,” said Bobani.
Trollip said the coalition government remained committed to “good governance, growing our economy to create jobs and to stop corruption”.
He said council records would show that Bobani supported Mettler’s appointment in council and that there was no opposition to his appointment.
“Coalition governments are not always the easiest governments. We will have differences from time to time but we will always resolve them,” said Trollip.
ANC caucus leader Bicks Ndoni said what happened on Thursday was a “major blow to the Democratic Alliance because what the deputy mayor is raising are fundamental issues”.
“Our position has always been clear from the outset that we as the ANC will continue to work for our people.”
“We knew that the coalition will run into problems because it’s the marriage of convenience and there are no principles. We knew that the mayor’s style of leadership was going to be problematic.”
“The deputy mayor felt undermined in many instances,” Ndoni said.
During last year’s municipal elections the DA received 46.71% of the metro’s votes, followed by the ANC at 40.92% and the EFF at 5.12%.
This translated to 57 council seats for the DA, 50 for the ANC, EFF (6), UDM (2), and one seat each for the AIC, United Front, Cope, ACDP and Patriotic Alliance.