Only one year after it was formed, the coalition government in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro is in disarray, after the removal of the United Democratic Movement deputy mayor, Mongameli Bobani on Thursday.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the party would pull out of the opposition coalition.
After months of tension between Democratic Alliance and UDM leaders in the region, Bobani was ousted during a chaotic vote of no confidence.
“We are definitely pulling out of the coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay. We can no longer tolerate how we are being treated as coalition partners,” said Holomisa.
On Thursday he told the Mail & Guardian his party would also challenge Bobani’s removal in court to clear his name.
“His axing was based on a report that he [Bobani] has not seen. Until such a time [as we see the report], we will interdict the motion because no real reasons were provided for the sacking of the deputy mayor. The so-called report, that no one has seen, remains the only thing they have against him,” said Holomisa.
The report, compiled by PwC, was commissioned by DA mayor Athol Trollip to investigate allegations of corruption.
DA federal chairperson James Selfe said the party would not comment on Holomisa’s statement that the UDM would leave the coalition until it had formally heard from the UDM.
Selfe said that, as far as he knew, the report was shared among coalition partners. “So it is not true that the report was not shared,” he said.
Sixty councillors from the DA, the Patriotic Front, the African Christian Democratic Party and the Congress of the People voted for the motion of no confidence in Bobani. At the time of voting, there were 119 councillors in the chamber. The ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Independent Congress strongly opposed the motion and started walking out during the voting.
The motion of no confidence was brought by Patriotic Front councillor Marlon Daniels last month and seconded by DA councillor Nqaba Bhanga. It would have been debated last week, but was postponed.
In his motion, Daniels said Bobani was disruptive in council meetings, and often voted with the opposition in council despite being part of the DA-led coalition running the metro.
“Councillor Bobani’s conduct in the coalition is regrettable. He is erratic and votes with the opposition. His behaviour has been disruptive and detrimental to the main goal of this council — that of providing good services to our people. This has been going on for some time now. We want a stable metro, which works for the people,” said Daniels.
Bobani said he did not accept the verdict: “As far as I am concerned, I am still the deputy mayor. This is fraud. The voting continued when proceedings in council were chaotic. Some councillors were walking out, but the speaker continued with the counting. I will take legal action.”
Council speaker Jonathan Lawack said everything was done according to the rules. “When I called for voting, most of the councillors were still in the chamber. By being in the chamber during that time, they participated. Also, all the parties were given time to participate in the debate, which they did.”
The ANC said it will seek legal advice on the matter because, it felt, proper procedures were not followed.