In a statement on Tuesday night the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) denied that they had thrown their weight behind the candidacy of Patriotic Alliance (PA) councillor Marlon Daniels to be the next mayor should Athol Trollip be successfully removed.
The Citizen had earlier been informed that the opposition grouping in Nelson Mandela Bay had agreed after a number of meetings to support Daniels.
However, the EFF’s national leadership surprised the PA later on Tuesday with a statement echoing unflattering labels for the PA that Julius Malema and other senior EFF leaders have often used for leader Gayton McKenzie’s party, particularly earlier this year when Daniels sided with Trollip.
The EFF said that they and the opposition parties had only thus far agreed to remove Trollip, but the EFF would not support “any candidate” from the PA, which they referred to as a party of “unrepentant fraudsters”, “thugs” and “gangsters”.
Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said they would all vote for Trollip to be ousted and then, if no candidate other than one from the PA were put forward, they would opt to rather not participate in the mayoral vote.
Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said they would keep the metro and society at large informed on the “final decision” relating to their ongoing talks with opposition parties, but “EFF will never give the City of Nelson Mandela to thugs”.
It’s understood that the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM’s) Mongameli Bobani was also keen to take the hot seat, and other opposition parties may have expressed interest, but the PA’s deciding “kingmaker vote” in council may ultimately still carry the most weight.
If the PA once again decides not to back the opposition, the stalemate will continue and Trollip will remain the mayor.
The opposition parties in Nelson Mandela Bay last week petitioned speaker Jonathan Lawack to convene a special council meeting with the intention of once again trying to oust the DA mayor. This will be the third attempt to boot Trollip from office after the last motion of no confidence was withdrawn by the EFF in May this year.
Earlier this year, Daniels was appointed by Trollip as the mayoral committee member for roads and transport following the PA joining the ruling coalition.
The opposition parties, with the PA, hold a combined 61-seat majority in the council of 120 seats. The ANC has 50 seats, the EFF six, the UDM two and the AIC, PA and United Front one each.
The DA-led coalition together with the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and Congress of the People (Cope) have 59 seats.
The opposition has for months been attempting to lure the PA away from the coalition to its side. Daniels said earlier this year he had turned down the offer of the mayoral position before, claiming that EFF members had been part of the offer – a claim the EFF later vehemently denied.
Malema had then referred to the PA as a party of “gangsters”.
Last week, Daniels, who has served as the member of the mayoral committee for roads and transport under Trollip, indicated he would no longer support the DA coalition, as it allegedly had not benefited his community.
“In my view, there is no point in me remaining as the MMC if my position does not change my community,” Daniels said.
Sources within the DA have said Daniels was demanding that the metro should prioritise the coloured northern areas at the expense of other black townships. The source said the metro had, however, been involved in a number of projects to improve all townships.
PA leader Gayton McKenzie accused the DA last week of evicting only black and coloured residents, while the UDM’s Bobani alleged service delivery in general was not happening under the DA and water and electricity tariffs had increased dramatically.
The DA responded by talking about some of the party’s successes in the metro.
Contacted for comment on Tuesday about the EFF’s outright refusal to back the PA after its councillor had apparently earlier appeared willing to do so, McKenzie said he would prefer to answer with a full statement later.