Court to rule on Trollip’s removal as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor

DA federal chairperson Athol Trollip. Picture: Gallo Images

The Democratic Alliance believes the council meeting that removed the former mayor was ‘illegal’.

The dramatic ousting of the Democratic Alliance’s (DAs) Athol Trollip as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor takes centre stage in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.

Judgment is expected to be handed down at 9.30am.

Last month, Trollip was removed through a motion of no confidence and his nemesis from the United Democratic Movement (UDM), former deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani, was elected mayor.

The DA and its coalition partners lodged a court application, asking for an urgent review of the council decision.

Last month, drama unfolded at a council meeting when DA councillor Victor Manyati betrayed his colleagues by abstaining from a vote that ultimately led to the removal of council speaker Jonathan Lawack.

After Lawack was ousted, the DA-led coalition fell apart when several motions, including a motion of no confidence against Trollip, succeeded in his absence.

However, the DA argues the process that was followed was unlawful, invalid and capable of being set aside.

The DA believes the meeting was “illegal” and wants the court to declare the meeting and subsequent decisions by council set aside or declared unlawful.

City manager Johann Mettler presided over the meeting and later declared a vacancy after DA Federal Executive chairperson James Selfe wrote a letter indicating Manyati’s party membership would be terminated after he told journalists of his intention to quit.

After a vacancy was declared, the DA and its coalition partners walked out of chambers but opposition parties were adamant that there was a quorum and other motions would be heard.

Mettler told the remaining councillors from the African National Congress (ANC), UDM, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), African Independent Congress (AIC) and United Front (UF) that there was no quorum and he too left chambers.

Later that day, Mettler did an about-turn after he sent a text message to ANC councillor Rory Riordan stating that he would retract declaring a vacancy. Meanwhile, cooperative governance and traditional affairs (CoGTA) member of the executive (MEC) Fikile Xasa sent a senior official to preside over the council meeting and oversee the election of a new council speaker.

Filing a notice to abide by the court’s decision on the matter means that Mettler and the metro will take a back seat and ultimately respect the court’s finding in the case.

The DA’s lawyers have argued that there was no quorum in council on the day Trollip was ousted and that councillor Manyati ceased to be a DA member when the vote against Trollip proceeded.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, for the opposing side, argued that the DA could not pinpoint when exactly Manyati ceased to be a member of the party.

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