Port Elizabeth – What was supposed to be a celebration of the Democratic Alliance led coalition’s first year in office, was overshadowed by the blatant rift between executive mayor Athol Trollip and deputy executive mayor, Mongameli Bobani.
Trollip delivered his State of the Metro address at the Ernest Swanepoel hall in Despatch, a year after taking over the city as the head of a coalition government that had ousted the ANC.
Notably, empty at the start of proceedings was Bobani’s chair in the front row.
Bobani made a dramatic entrance after 30 minutes into proceedings, just as Trollip began speaking about the challenges faced by the multiparty endeavour.
Tensions between the two have been at an all-time high of late, as a motion of no confidence against Bobani looms. The council meeting where the motion is set to be tabled has already been postponed twice as behind the scenes lobbying on both sides takes place.
Veiled references to Bobani in address
Trollip made a few veiled references to Bobani in his address, taking a swipe at the poor delivery of the public health directorate, which was headed by Bobani until Trollip fired him in March.
“One area where we haven’t done as well as we would have liked is that of the cleanliness of our city. Illegal dumping is a scourge, which has been compounded by two illegal strikes in the Waste Management sub-directorate; this despite the fact that a bench-marking exercise found our workers to be the best paid yet least productive in waste removal,” said Trollip.
Trollip also referred to the War on Waste campaign, which was headed by Bobani.
“Regrettably, the first phase did not deliver the expected results and deficient planning and poor implementation of the plan led to under-expenditure, as a result of which we lost the unspent money,” he said.
Bobani, however, appeared completely disinterested in Trollip’s speech, and instead sat playing with his phone.
At the end of the speech, councillors from the DA and coalition partners all rose and gave Trollip a standing ovation, as Bobani sat resolute in his chair.
Things escalated further at the end of the official proceedings, as Bobani held an impromptu press conference in the hall, while other media gathered in the press venue to interview Trollip.
Bobani lashed out at Tollip, accusing him of not having consulted him at all with regards to the State of the Metro address.
Bobani said he was not prepared to endorse the content of the address, as he had not been consulted.
Asked about Bobani’s attitude, a visibly irritated Trollip said he could not speak on his behalf, but that it was just a further sign of disrespect towards him and the rest of the coalition.
“There are certain responsibilities that fall to me, I am the executive mayor, it is my speech on the state of the metro,” he said.
Coalition partner says Bobani is being petty
ACDP coalition partner, Patrick Grootboom, said as far as consultation went, the members were all aware of the successes and the challenges the metro faced.
Cope’s Siyasanga Sijadu was less forgiving. “I think it is important that we must not pick petty fights, we have a city to run,” she said.
“This is a petty fight. The question of who wrote the speech and [who was] not being consulted, this is of no consequence. If we must fight, let us fight to make sure the city runs, and it runs well.”