With the Patriotic Alliance (PA) now apparently having withdrawn the name of its councillor, Marlon Daniels, from the race for the mayorship of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, the road appears to be open for United Democratic Movement (UDM) councillor Mongameli Bobani to take the position.
This would happen should the proposed motion of no confidence in incumbent mayor Athol Trollip be successful. The matter is expected to come before the council in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
Daniels and Bobani were the only candidates earmarked to replace Trollip. But then the PA’s national leader, Gayton McKenzie, sent a letter informing the new coalition of anti-Trollip parties that his party was withdrawing Daniels’ name from the running after a spat with the EFF.
This left Bobani as the only probable candidate. Bobani was supported by the EFF while the ANC, PA and African Independent Congress backed Daniels.
In a meeting held at the EFF headquarters in Braamfontein, the EFF refused to vote for Daniels, releasing a statement that evening calling the PA “unrepentant fraudsters” and “thugs”.
McKenzie wrote that the PA was the kingmaker in the Nelson Mandela council and the government could not be changed without the party’s help in the metro.
“Whoever thinks it is possible without the PA is either dishonest or misinformed about the workings of the local government. They tried without our support before and failed,” he said.
McKenzie vowed that he could not let his personal disgruntlement with Malema hold the Nelson Mandela Bay people hostage to their “suffering”.
“The PA therefore is willing to remove its candidacy for the mayoral position. We have many choice insults we can offer the EFF in return, but we shall refrain because this is not the time for such games,” he said.
He questioned the EFF’s seriousness in removing Trollip, adding that the EFF’s insults against the PA could have scuffled the “fragile deal” the new opposition coalition made to remove Trollip and thereby retain Trollip as the mayor. But the PA would not give the EFF any excuse to retain the DA in power.
McKenzie accused the EFF of failing to respect democracy when the democratic process did not favour it. He said Daniels had been chosen democratically to lead Nelson Mandela Bay at the EFF offices.
The EFF was not available for comment yesterday.
When approached yesterday, Bobani declined to comment about his possible imminent rise to become the next mayor.
“Whoever is elected as mayor will follow the collective decision of the new coalition. As the UDM we say it’s not about positions but about putting the interests of the people first,” Bobani said.
Bobani confirmed that the council speaker, Jonathan Lawack, had refused a request by the opposition for a council meeting to debate the motion of no confidence for last Friday. He accused Lawack of disrespecting the law, which he said superseded the rules of council.
In his letter to the parties that petitioned for the convening of the meeting, Lawack said their request was in breach of the applicable time periods and against the standing rule that required that such meetings should not take place before the expiry of five business days. Lawack said the no confidence motion was therefore scheduled for 16 August.
Bobani insisted they would demand that the matter be discussed on Wednesday.
“In the Structures Act, and in the section concerned, there is no mention of five (5) days, that you are demanding from us in order for you comply with the provisions of section 29 the Act,” Bobani and opposition parties wrote.