Coalition Wars: DA wins round one in case about UDM councillor removal in NMB

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is victorious after an urgent application by its coalition partner in the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) region, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), has been struck from the roll for want of urgency and the UDM ordered to pay costs.

Kristoff Adelbert, chief of staff for NMB Mayor Athol Trollip, confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that Judge Dayalin Chetty had made the order against the UDM after the application was heard on Tuesday in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

“The judge declared the matter was not urgent,” Adelbert said.

The UDM filed court papers against the DA in NMB after UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani was ousted as deputy mayor. Bobani was removed during a council meeting in Port Elizabeth on August 24 after he voted with ANC councillors. He was accused of undermining the DA-led coalition by voting with its opposition.

There was a total of 60 votes from the DA, Patriotic Alliance, African Christian Democratic Party, and Congress of the People that led to Bobani being ousted in a motion of no confidence.

But the UDM, in court papers, argued that Bobani’s removal is unlawful and unconstitutional. The UDM brought a civil application to the Port Elizabeth High Court to interdict the municipality’s removal of Bobani. In an affidavit, Bobani set out why he should remain deputy mayor.

He argued that municipal rules and constitutional law had been ignored by the council when he was ousted. Both the Constitution and the municipal rules state that the majority of the council must be present to vote in a motion of no confidence. It was not the case, Bobani said, when the vote against him took place.

He also argued that he was being denied his salary.

The UDM requested that the court order a new vote to take place at the next council meeting on September 21. At the next meeting, he said, it was likely his replacement for deputy mayor would be voted in.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, meanwhile, has been critical of the DA, describing the party an “apartheid-style baasskap dressed up in a cheap tuxedo”. He suggested Bobani’s dismissal was an attack on the UDM

DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe said in a statement that the party had “implored” Holomisa to redeploy Bobani for nine months.

“Mr Holomisa must not prioritise Mr Bobani at the expense of the millions who have put their faith in the coalition government,” Selfe said.

Selfe described Bobani as a “destructive” member of the coalition in NMB who “still needs to answer serious allegations of irregular expenditure, fraud and corruption”. He said Bobani’s alleged conduct broke the coalition agreement of zero tolerance for corruption.

“We are adamant justice will be done”
UDM secretary general Bongani Msomi told the Mail & Guardian that the party’s leadership would meet and consult on whether there will be an appeal.

“What we are going to need as leadership is to try to find a solution to the impasse and as well as study the decision of the court. Then we will see if we will appeal,” Msomi said.

Msomi said the case was brought by the UDM because the party believes it has a case.

“We are adamant that justice will be done,” he said. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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