Et tu Manyati? Trollip dumped thanks to one of his own
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor was unceremoniously removed from his position, thanks to the abstention of fellow DA member Mbulelo Manyati
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip had the mayoral chains removed from around his neck on Monday night after a motion of no confidence by opposition parties – but it was his party-mate Mbulelo Manyati who ultimately sealed his fate.
A coalition of opposition councillors elected the UDM’s Monagmeli Bobani to replace him.
The African Independent Congress’s Thsonono Buyeye was elected deputy mayor, Buyeye Mafaya of the ANC was elected speaker, and Bicks Ndoni, also ANC, was installed as the council’s new chief whip.
The DA was, however, planning to legally challenge the meeting – saying it was not duly constituted.
The move by opposition parties to remove the DA-led coalition from power followed a dramatic council meeting which first saw speaker Jonathan Lawack removed by the opposition with the help of Manyati, who turned on his party and abstained from voting.Manyati’s DA membership was terminated less than two hours after his abstention. The DA relied on the clause which allows it to fire any member that publicly states they plan to resign from the party. The clause was adopted by the party’s congress earlier this year.
Manyati told journalists in a video that he planned to resign from the party as he felt black councillors were ill-treated by the DA.
The DA’s chairman of the federal council, James Selfe, sent a letter to city manager Johann Mettler, saying Manyati was no longer a member of the party and thus a vacancy should be declared in the council.
Mettler, upon receiving legal advice, then declared the vacancy and said Manyati was no longer a councillor.
This prompted the DA and its coalition partners Cope and ACDP to stage a walkout of the meeting, hoping to effectively collapse the sitting and leave it without a quorum.
But, the opposition coalition – made up of the ANC, EFF, UDM, AIC and United Front - were adamant that Mettler was wrong as it was ultimately up to the IEC to declare the vacancy, especially as Manyati planned to fight his dismissal and his lawyer had sent a letter in that regard.
Mettler declared the meeting unable to proceed with only 60 councillors out of a council of 120 as he believed Manyati was no longer a councillor.
After leaving the meeting, Mettler later told the opposition councillors he received further legal advice and thus erred in declaring the vacancy so soon. He said the council meeting would continue on Monday.
But the opposition parties refused to wait, roping in Eastern Cape MEC of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Fikile Xasa to intervene.
Xasa, who had not spoken to Mettler about what transpired, told Times Select that he “heard the city manager walked out” and that he would send a senior official, Jenny Roestorf, from his office to preside over the election of a speaker.
Despite the drama, Bobani, a former deputy mayor under Trollip for a few months before they cut ties, geared up for work in the mayoral hotseat. He said the first thing on his agenda would be to focus on growing small businesses and to ensure residents were delivered key services.
“We will show the DA how it’s done. This is a collective government. There is not going to be a mayor who does whatever they want. The mayor is going to consult all the stakeholders because it’s not only the UDM.
“I want to thank all the councillors who voted for me and I want to promise residents that we will make sure they get quality service.“The previously disadvantaged people, this is their time now,” Bobani said, before announcing his mayoral committee.
Among those in that committee ANC councillor Andile Lungisa as head of infrastructure and engineering, and the United Front’s Mkhuseli Mtsila as head of budget and treasury.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Trollip and the rest of the DA had worked tirelessly to deliver services to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.
“Today is the start of the reversal. We shall continue to fight for the people,” Maimane said on Twitter on Monday night.