The EFF’s motion of no confidence vote in Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip and speaker Jonathan Lawack will only be held sometime within the next two weeks following numerous delays on disruptions on Thursday.
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa asked that only the IDP and draft budget should be dealt with for now. The meeting reconvened following a 10-minute adjournment requested by his party.
All the parties then proceeded to vote in favour of the adjusted budget expect for the EFF.
Following an earlier 30-minute adjournment, Trollip had suggested that the second agenda for the ordinary council meeting which was scheduled to take place after the special council meeting should go ahead because it was the people’s agenda.
One of the items on the second agenda was passing a draft budget.
Trollip had been the one to suggest that the items of the special agenda be dealt with within 14 days.
The UDM and ANC seconded Trollip’s suggestion but requested the 10-minute break, which the Speaker granted and the meeting adjourned.
The council meeting has been brought to a standstill as EFF Chief Whip Zilindile Vena and PA councillor Marlon Daniels began arguing.
The argument was followed by more chaos, which has characterised the meeting since early this morning.
Moments before the argument between Vena and Daniels, the PA councillor had raised the point that the entire day had gone to waste without a single item on the agenda being dealt with.
Trollip alleged on Thursday afternoon in council that he had witnessed opposition councillors singing the controversial struggle song “Dubul’ibhunu” (Shoot the Boer) and making signals with their hands miming guns.
He expressed his concern at this behaviour, while DA leader Mmusi Maimane said outside the chambers at the same time that the EFF and ANC were clearly now working together and had cooperated to ensure that the vote would not take place once they realised it had no chance of succeeding.
EFF leader Julius Malema was prohibited from singing the song years ago after losing a court case against him when he was still in the ANC. The lyrics were ruled to be hate speech.
At one point Lawack ordered UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani to leave the chambers for being disruptive, He refused and continued to raise ongoing points of order.
Lawack decided to adjourn the special council meeting indefinitely on the basis that proceedings had become disorderly. He said they would proceed with an ordinary council meeting and notify council members of the new date for the vote.
The opposition, however, called for the vote to proceed following squabbling on Thursday morning about technicalities ahead of the special council meeting. Numerous angry points of order were raised, following which the opposition began to sing and it was impossible to continue with the meeting.
At noon, ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula declared that the ANC would retake power in the metro through a majority in the next elections at the ballot box, not through the squabbles of coalition politics.
After 9am, Lawack announced that the special meeting was adjourned until 10am, amid concerns that those inside the building had been locked in. However, individuals were allowed to enter and leave amid heightened security.
By 9.45am, it seemed that expectations were that Lawack would announce that the vote would not take place on Thursday, and that normal council business would continue.
When council resumed after 10, Lawack invited a reverend to deliver what seemed like a sermon about obeying the word of God, presumably to calm the situation.
What followed was sermonising that made the council seem like Easter had come early as the reverend quoted several pieces of scripture. He concluded with a prayer.
Following this spectacle, the speaker announced – after numerous points of order from the House – that the vote would not be taking place, which the opposition threatened to challenge in court.
The opposition had asked that the vote be done by secret ballot, which was up to Lawack to decide. They also wanted to vote first on Lawack’s position, as getting rid of the speaker would remove the DA’s ability to have him cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Rumours were circulating that the EFF was ready to take the outcome of the vote to court in the event that Lawack refused the secret ballot and the outcome favoured Trollip.
However, the EFF and other opposition party members had earlier attempted to leave the chambers in anger, presumably because Lawack has not been receptive to their demands. They wished to consult and would resume the council meeting after coming to a decision on their strategy.
There was also video evidence that certain councillors were engaged in a heated scuffle during the break, with reports of pushing and shoving, apparently related to the fact that the opposition had not been allowed to leave the chambers to consult.
Opposition parties asked for DA leader Mmusi Maimane to be removed from council. The UDM’s Mongameli Bobani asked him to remove himself as he was “disrupting” them. Maimane later said in a televised interview that he was not involved in any scuffle, but he suspected the EFF had been trying to collapse the council meeting and he had been within his rights to observe the proceedings from the public gallery as an “ordinary member of the public”.
He denied that there was any basis for a secret ballot and that he wanted voters to see how their representatives voted, whether it was for corruption, “fascism” and “racism” or clean governance and service delivery. Maimane said the allegation that Trollip’s government was not prioritising the poor was untrue and not based on his record, which included accelerating the handover of title deeds.
After 9.10am, the opposition was singing and dancing in the council.
In addition to Trollip’s removal and the election of a new mayor, other agenda items this morning were:
- The removal of the chief whip and the appointment of a new one.
- Rescinding council’s decision to dissolve the position of deputy mayor and that this position should be reinstated.
- The election of a deputy mayor
- The removal of all current members of standing committees including their respective chairpersons and the appointment of new members of the various standing committees and their respective chairpersons.
The ANC’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, had already announced that the ANC is not nominating a candidate to replace Trollip.
Earlier this month, the EFF, which helped the DA to gain control of the metro from the ANC after the August 2016 local government elections, filed a motion of no confidence against Trollip.
The EFF needs the support of every other opposition party, including the ANC, to make up the 61-vote majority in the council of 120 seats.
The DA, with its remaining coalition partners the Congress of the People (Cope) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), together have 59 seats, while the ANC has 50, the EFF six, the UDM two and the PA, AIC and UF one each.
PA leader Gayton McKenzie said in an open letter to the ANC that they would not vote against Trollip purely on the basis that he is white.
PA councillor Marlon Daniels has since signed the coalition co-governance agreement for the second time following the finalisation of a deal between the DA and PA on Tuesday, with Daniels set to be given the deputy mayor position and that of political head for roads and transport.
The deputy mayor position was previously done away with at council but that decision, if passed at council, is set to be rescinded to enable Daniels to be accommodated.
On Wednesday night the AIC also announced they intended to support Trollip.