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19 May 2017 00:00
Unmayorals: The DA’s Athol Trollip (centre) and the UDM’s Mongameli Bobani (right). (Brian Witbooi/Sunday Times/Gallo)
Serious fissures have opened in the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition government, with the United Democratic Movement (UDM) threatening to pull out of its coalition with the Democratic Alliance.
This comes after executive mayor Athol Trollip axed deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani from his position on the mayoral committee as head of the public health directorate.
DA leaders in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro were reportedly planning to table a motion to remove Bobani as deputy mayor during next Tuesday’s full council meeting.
The DA entered into a coalition agreement with the UDM after last year’s local government elections but the marriage has been characterised by tensions between the UDM’s Bobani and Trollip.
DA spokesperson Mabine Seabe confirmed on Wednesday that the UDM had threatened to withdraw from the coalition but said it had later changed its position.
“The UDM had called the leader [of the DA, Mmusi Maimane], saying that they were going to pull out of the coalition agreement.
“But it was later agreed that the people of NMB [Nelson Mandela Bay] must come before politics. A disagreement between two parties cannot sacrifice the project of building a better NMB,” said Seabe.
This week UDM leader Bantu Holomisa dismissed claims that his party had threatened to withdraw from the coalition agreement.
“That is nonsense.
DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said he had been told that Holomisa had said his party was pulling out, but both the UDM and the DA were, however, committed to making the coalition work.
Selfe said he had proposed a meeting with the DA next week to sort out the differences between the two parties.
Holomisa said Trollip’s unilateral decision to fire Bobani from the mayoral committee would have to be explained during the meeting. He accused Trollip of acting as the complainant and the judge in the matter.
“Both Trollip and Bobani will make presentations to the national leadership. As the UDM we are going to fight for the reinstatement of Bobani in the mayoral committee,” said Holomisa.
Justifying his decision, Trollip wrote numerous letters to Holomisa listing Bobani’s misdemeanours.
In a letter to Bobani this week informing him about his removal as public health portfolio head, Trollip wrote: “Your behaviour in public meetings has also become untenable and inconsistent with someone who holds such high office in this administration. You have publicly chosen to oppose the collective decisions of the coalition government and the mayoral committee. You have done so publicly and in council, and have not once provided a coherent or legal reason for doing so.
“There are also very serious allegations of impropriety and maladministration in your directorate that are being investigated without so much as an explanation to me or the mayoral committee about what is going on,” said Trollip.
Bobani says Trollip does not listen to him, adding that the mayor wants to run the metro as “his personal farm”.
Last Friday, the DA sent an ultimatum to Holomisa asking him to remove Bobani and replace him with someone else by May 16.
Holomisa did not take kindly to this, and accused Trollip of being the one jeopardising the coalition. “Trollip is the one destroying this coalition. We are not going to be part of that nonsense if we are going to be treated as kids and tossed around. We, as UDM in the coalition, are not accountable to Trollip. Who the hell does he think he is? He is the bully,” said Holomisa.
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