The DA said on Tuesday that Nelson Mandela Bay city manager Johan Mettler had obtained legal opinion on the removal of Nelson Mandela Bay speaker Jonathan Lawack and mayor Athol Trollip, confirming it had been “unlawful, invalid, and capable of being set aside”.
The party has committed to taking the council’s decision on review as they believe the process to appoint the new speaker was procedurally invalid and therefore the “removal” of Mayor Trollip was also questionable.
The DA’s Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga said that after Lawack was removed, Mettler adjourned the council sitting as quorum had supposedly been broken, in the DA’s view.
He quoted section 36(3) of the Municipal Structures Act (117 of 1998), which says: “The municipal manager of the municipality or, if the municipal manager is not available, a person designated by the MEC for local government in the province, [should] preside over the election of a speaker”.
“Eastern Cape MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Fikile Xasa then incorrectly invoked Section 36(3) and designated an individual to preside over the election of ANC councillor Buyelwa Mafaya as speaker and the motion of no confidence in Trollip.
“This was despite the municipal manager being both present and able to preside over the sitting. This is in clear contravention of the Municipal Structures Act.”
They said the legal opinion confirmed their view and that their lawyers had told them: “Having regard to the factual circumstances that prevailed, it can never be said that the municipal manager was not available.”
The opinion found that the municipal manager was “physically available and, accordingly, the appointment of such other person to chair the election of a speaker was unlawful and invalid, with the concomitant result that the appointment of a speaker and the subsequent appointment of a new mayor are similarly unlawful, invalid and capable of being reviewed and set aside”.
The DA claimed the “real motivation” for the attempted removal of Trollip were for the “ANC, UDM and the EFF to once again get access to the people’s money in order to fill their own pockets and their party coffers ahead of the 2019 national elections”.
“This is a coalition of the corrupt, not in the interest of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.”