Port Elizabeth – The deputy mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Mongameli Bobani, has been ousted following a controversial vote of no confidence on Thursday.
The motion was brought to council by Patriotic Alliance (PA) member Marlon Daniels and seconded by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader and mayoral committee member Nqaba Bhanga.
The PA secured one seat in council during last year’s elections and, although initially not part of the coalition, recently signed a co-governance agreement with the DA.
Daniels is believed to be gunning for the deputy mayor’s post, as well as the mayoral committee portfolio of safety and security, currently occupied by DA councillor John Best.
Chaos in council before vote
Opposition parties, most notably the ANC and EFF, staged a walkout when Speaker Jonathan Lawack refused to allow more than one member of each party to debate the matter.
They walked out, singing and dancing, while Lawack called for order.
Bobani also got up and danced at the front of the chamber, before joining ANC councillors as they walked out.
The vote then took place, as opposition members were still walking out the chamber.
Quorum or no quorum?
Lawack confirmed that the vote had passed, after 60 votes were counted in favour of the motion. He maintained that there was a quorum, as a number of the opposition councillors had not left the council chamber at the time of the vote.
This was, however, met with strong criticism from the opposition parties, particularly the ANC and EFF.
ANC leader and former deputy mayor, Bicks Ndoni, said the ANC would pursue the matter and seek legal advice.
“When the councillors walked out of council, there was no longer a quorum,” he said.
“The speaker knows. He was supposed to stop the meeting, allow people to go out and, having gone out, the matter settles down and then start counting the warm bodies.
“The best they could do was sixty bodies, so there is no quorum,” argued Ndoni.
“They cannot fabricate numbers. You can’t just get rid of someone at all costs,” he added.
‘I am still deputy mayor’
Bobani refused to accept the vote, saying he would remain deputy mayor until he was informed otherwise.
“Once the meeting is chaotic, the speaker is supposed to stop everything, call everything to order and then check if there is a quorum before proceeding,” he said.
“You can see this particular motion, come hell or come what, (Athol) Trollip and the DA were hell bent on pushing the UDM out of this government.
“How can this motion be passed when the other councillors went out. You saw it yourself. It is illegal!
Bobani said they will consult the leadership nationally for advice on the way forward.
“As far as the UDM is concerned … there was no quorum.”
Bobani said the UDM was still part of the coalition, but said Thursday’s proceedings had made it clear that the DA was determined to get rid of the UDM and get into bed with the PA.
“The only person here who has a problem against the UDM is Trollip,” he claimed.
Bobani said, while he had received tremendous support from the ANC, he could not consider changing sides, as that was in the hands of national leadership.
In a press conference after the proceedings, Daniels told journalists that he had been chair of what he called the black caucus, which was a regular meeting of opposition parties in the municipality.
Daniels said that Bobani had regularly attended these meetings, despite him being part of the coalition.
Daniels and other coalition partners refused to talk about his own political ambitions, aside from saying that the decision, on who the new deputy mayor would be, would take place at the next council meeting.
*This article has been updated