At a rally in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip reassured his supporters that he was ready and willing to work with the Patriotic Alliance (PA) in a possible new coalition agreement.
Trollip and the DA need the PA’s solitary vote in the 120-seat council if they are to defeat a motion of no confidence brought against Trollip by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
It is understood that the PA’s Marlon Daniels will become the deputy mayor and take over the roads and transport portfolio if Trollip remains in power.
Speaking at the rally, Trollip said that he knew the character of their “newest coalition partner” because he’d been in government with the PA before.
“And when we were cooperating with Marlon Daniels and Gayton McKenzie, Daniels was doing well in the department of public health … he remembered that he could work with us to make this city work better.”
He claimed the PA had left that coalition because Trollip had not been able to give them the deputy mayoral position at that time because the removed former incumbent, Mongameli Bobani, had launched a court action against his ousting. He said they then did away with the position and the PA left the coalition.
The important thing for Trollip, though, was that McKenzie and the PA had remained respectful.
“They never made racist utterances against the DA in public; Gayton McKenzie didn’t throw his toys out of the cot like a spoiled child. He phoned me and he said, ‘Athol, I’m afraid we can no longer cooperate.'”
“I said, ‘Fine, Gayton, if that’s the way it is, so be it.”
In another interview he gave the SABC, Trollip commented further on McKenzie saying that he believed the one-time bank robber turned politician and businessman was fully rehabilitated, had made a contribution to society.
Trollip also described the EFF as a fundamentally racist party that is seeking to have him removed only because of his race.
The EFF tabled the motion against Trollip as an ostensible way of punishing the DA for not supporting its parliamentary motion on land expropriation without compensation.
Trollip said at his rally that when EFF leader Julius Malema stated why his party would pursue removing him from the mayoral position, McKenzie had taken a fundamental decision to not back the EFF.
He urged people to read the open letter McKenzie penned to the ANC in which he outlines the reasons why the PA will not support the EFF’s motion.
“When you read that letter, [also] google the letter that he wrote to Julius Malema four years ago. There’s something significant in both those pieces of correspondence. They are consistent. He called Julius Malema out for who he is and what he is four years ago. He’s calling the ANC out for who they are and what they are now and he is bringing the two together to say that this is the kind of attitude that will take South Africa to a cul de sac,” Trollip said.
He said that when he and McKenzie debated two days ago about re-establishing the coalition between the two parties a foundation of shared principles and values was formed.
“We both said we cannot take our country forward on a platform of racism or on a narrative and rhetoric that is based on racial division,” said the DA mayor.
He said he believed it was possible for those who shared values to build a relationship and it was impossible to do the same if values were not shared.
“And very clearly, the EFF does not share our values and they have been very petulant at the moment; and because their two strings at the bow have been taken by the ANC, namely, Jacob Zuma, who the ANC removed without the help of the EFF and the expropriation of land without compensation – the decision that they took in December without the EFF – all Julius Malema is left with is race,” Trollip said.
He said he was certain the DA could overcome the EFF because the red berets’ reasons for tabling the motion of no confidence are not concrete but simply are based on race.
“There’s no triumphalism here today, there will be no triumphalism tomorrow. We will not behave badly if things don’t go our way tomorrow either,” he said.
The EFF has officially denied that they were in talks with Daniels to allow him to become the mayor if he offered their motion his support.