Patriotic Alliance (PA) councillor in Nelson Mandela Bay Marlon Daniels has confirmed his party has agreed to a coalition deal with DA mayor Athol Trollip that will possibly see Daniels ascend to the deputy mayorship of the metro.
Daniels also confirmed that he is likely to head up the roads and transport portfolio with the support of the DA-led coalition.
However, he told The Citizen he had turned down the chance to be the city’s mayor from the DA’s opposition in the city. The support of the PA’s one seat in Thursday’s vote of no confidence will likely be enough to keep the DA in power in the important industrial hub of the Eastern Cape.
The so-called black caucus in the city has, however, apparently been trying frantically to sway the PA to change its mind on the vote after news broke on Tuesday night in a letter from PA president Gayton McKenzie that they would not support a motion brought by the EFF against the DA in the city on the basis that, to them, it smacked of racism.
Daniels told The Citizen he found himself in a meeting in the small hours of this morning with representatives from the black caucus comprising councillors from the EFF, AIC and United Front Eastern Cape.
He explained that his relationship with the ANC and UDM in the caucus has been strained since he insisted last week that the ANC should not be allowed to “be the face” of the metro by regaining the mayor’s position.
Daniels confirmed the ousted former UDM mayor Mongameli Bobani had also been eyeing the mayor’s position.
“I told the ANC the PA won’t allow them to be the face of metro after their neglect of the Northern Areas when they governed here since 1994. They should sit out their punishment until the new elections in 2021 and see if they can regain this metro through the ballot box.”
The ANC had been hopeful that either Andile Mfunda or Bicks Ndoni could become the mayor. In return for the PA’s support, Daniels said they had offered to make Daniels the deputy mayor.
He told The Citizen that the ANC apparently only gave up on their mayoral ambitions on Tuesday after Daniels continued to insist that only the leadership of the minority parties would be acceptable to the PA.
Despite the fact that the EFF holds more seats than any other black caucus party outside the ANC, they had made it clear they would continue to not form part of the local government.
“They [black caucus councillors] came to my house just after midnight to ask me what I wanted to change my mind. They said ‘anything the PA wants, the PA can get’. They then alluded to the mayorship.”
He claims the EFF had made it clear to him that they had spoken to their president, Julius Malema, and he had “no issue” with Daniels becoming the mayor, as long as the motion against Trollip could be successful.
Daniels said he then phoned McKenzie to “engage” with him about the offer.
However, “we agreed that this is not about positions” and they would continue to support Trollip despite the fact that they have had disagreements with the mayor about his governance of the metro.
Daniels said much could still change ahead of tomorrow morning’s special and general council meetings, as the motions on removing Trollip and electing a new mayor and deputy mayor could still be rescinded by the parties who had brought them.
How we got here:
The prospect of the DA’s removal became possible after Malema said in parliament earlier this month that the EFF would fire a warning shot at the DA following the latter’s opposition to a National Assembly motion on land expropriation without compensation.
The EFF said they would target Port Elizabeth primarily because there is a white mayor in power there.
In response, McKenzie has said that the principles of nonracialism would prevent the PA from joining a motion of no confidence simply on the basis that the mayor has the wrong skin colour.
He wrote on Thursday: “Trollip didn’t become white yesterday. He was born white. Let’s not be fooled by those who were comfortable handing power to the same white Trollip and who are now screaming that he’s too white for their liking and should go. We cannot support a motion of no confidence against a man when the only apparent basis for that motion is that the man in question happens to be white. Let’s be clear: anyone voting against Trollip on Thursday will be engaging in an act of racism, and the PA will not partake in it even if the EFF will try to dress it up as a punishment over differences about land expropriation.”
The EFF had expressed great confidence in the fact that Trollip would be “going”. However, they may have miscalculated the numbers required to pass the motion, as Malema insulted McKenzie a few days ago on Power FM, calling him “dodgy”, something McKenzie’s letter suggests he did not miss.
He wrote that Malema had accepted money from “dodgy” whites and was not being sincere in his outspokenness against “whiteness”.
“All sorts of white people have stepped into the breach for Malema and his followers – from our captains of industry to those we might best describe by using the same word he used for me last week: ‘dodgy’ whites,” wrote McKenzie.
Until recently, the PA was assumed to be part of the opposition in the 120-seat metro council after Daniels voted with the DA to ensure a successful motion of no confidence in the then UDM deputy mayor Bobani in August 2017. Daniels and the PA had asked for the deputy mayoral position in return, but that deal did not materialise at the time.
Since then, the DA had been governing in a minority coalition government with its 57 seats and one each from Cope and the ACDP.
The 60-seat opposition has comprised the ANC (50 seats), EFF (6 seats), UDM (2 seats), AIC (1 seat) and the United Front Eastern Cape (1 seat).
The PA’s one seat being given to the ruling coalition would ensure an even split of 60 seats each on Thursday, allowing the speaker, Jonathan Lawack, to cast the deciding vote in favour of the current coalition government.
The vote, if it now even takes place, will be taken by an open show of hands.
Malema had planned to personally lobby support against the DA this week in Port Elizabeth, with a rally planned for Wednesday afternoon. The DA is also holding its own rally.
In his open letter, McKenzie accuses the ANC of abandoning its principles of nonracialism by aligning itself with Malema.
Read the full unedited letter here.