The Democratic Alliance-led coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay is facing its biggest battle to date, after a high-level delegation of senior members from the City’s opposition parties met on Thursday to discuss removing the coalition from power.
Key among those in attendance was the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and its leader, Gayton McKenzie, indicated that the second alliance with the DA had come to an end.
Also in attendance were the ANC’s Faith Muthambi, EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee, African Independent Congress (AIC) general secretary Mahlubi Jafta, the United Front’s Zanoxolo Wayile and United Democratic Movement regional leader Mongameli Bobani.
Together, these parties have a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat council and would therefore be able to pass any motions tabled.
DA coalition to be removed
The meeting, which was confirmed by several members who attended, has resolved to remove the DA-led opposition.
It was also confirmed that the minority parties in attendance had been called on to submit which leadership positions they would want under the new coalition government – an indication that the ANC did not want to be at the helm in the build up to next year’s general elections.
Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip said he could not comment on a meeting that he was not a part of.
“We have an electoral mandate, which we will respect and honour till the last second. We will not go without a fight,” he said.
Shaky alliance crumbles, again
The PA has been the king maker in the metro since the well-documented fallout between Trollip and his former deputy mayor, Bobani.
A hastily-formed alliance with the PA, saw councillor Marlon Daniels lodge a motion of no confidence in Bobani, which led to Bobani’s removal as deputy mayor. Daniels was later appointed as Mayoral Committee Member for Public Health.
Not long after, the PA withdrew from the coalition after the DA opted to dissolve the deputy mayor position, which had allegedly been promised to Daniels as part of the negotiations for his support.
Since then, the coalition government has been fighting tooth and nail to retain its position, with a series of motions of no confidence in Trollip, speaker Jonathan Lawack and chief whip Werner Senekal.
General council meetings have repeatedly descended into chaos, with opposition parties walking out and critical items not being passed on time.
Facing a fresh round of no confidence votes, the DA announced that the PA had returned to the coalition in March, with the AIC also indicating they would vote with the DA, securing them the 61 votes needed.
In return Daniels was again appointed to the mayoral committee, this time replacing DA councillor Rano Kayser as head of transport.
But, just four months later, the second alliance is in shambles, with Daniels accusing the DA of using the northern areas as voting fodder and saying that there is no coalition, just Trollip.
The way forward
Daniels said the meeting had resolved to petition the speaker to call a special council meeting, where fresh motions of no confidence in Trollip and others would be submitted.
“Those who say we are bringing the ANC in by the back door are mistaken. We are going to form a minority-party-led government. The DA have had their chance, and the ANC have had their chance. Now it’s our turn,” he said.
Bobani said the UDM was working with the other minority parties to bring political stability to the municipality and was prepared to work with all political parties to put the people of the city first.
“We never left the coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay. Trollip accused me of corruption and removed me, but where is the evidence? There is none!
“The DA is still quiet. Up to today there has been no apology from them,” he said.
AIC tentatively support the motion
AIC leader Mandla Galo confirmed that the party had been part of the talks and had been represented by Jafta and had indicated they would support the motion.
He said Jafta had been in the Metro on a fact-finding mission and had discussed various issues, such as the unfair allocation of resources by the DA-led coalition with their local councillor, Tshonono Buyeye.
Galo said the AIC was still in coalition with the ANC, but said it was important that they did not get caught up in the “silly politics” of the ANC, EFF and DA.
“We said in the meeting that we will also be engaging with the DA,” he said.
Galo added that the issue of the relocation of Matatiele back to KwaZulu-Natal was still part of the discussions, with the ANC’s Muthambi giving the party assurances that the matter was receiving attention at the highest level.
The AIC opted to vote for the budget in the last council meeting in June, after promises made over Matatiele by the ANC’s Andile Lungisa failed to materialise by the deadline given by Galo.