The Democratic Alliance (DA) former Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) mayor Athol Trollip said the party would urgently seek answers after it learned that three former party councillors would allegedly be paid councillor salaries.
These councillors are Neville Higgins, Trevor Louw, and Victor Manyati, three former DA members that were removed from their positions.
Manyati abstained from a council vote and was instrumental in the ousting of Trollip last year.
Louw and Higgins both turned against the party after Trollip’s coalition government was ousted.
The Port Elizabeth High Court subsequently ruled that by-elections be held to fill vacancies in Wards 35 and 37 in the city’s northern areas, positions which were held by Louw and Higgins.
The DA had filed an urgent court application, stating that three council seats had been held open unlawfully and that in doing so, a succession of municipal managers had undermined the democratic process.
The DA took the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to court, along with Manyati, Louw and Higgins, to ask the court to remove them from the party.
Trollip said in a statement on Tuesday: “The DA will urgently be seeking answers after it came to light that the ANC/EFF/UDM coalition of corruption in Nelson Mandela Bay has apparently made a commitment to pay councillor salaries to former councillors Neville Higgins, Trevor Louw, and Victor Manyati – three former DA members that were removed from their positions.”
Trollip said it came to the DA’s attention that Higgins, Louw and Manyati met with the city’s mayoral committee on Monday last week regarding what they call a “salary rescue plan”.
“Following this meeting, a message was sent by the former councillors to the mayor, deputy mayor, speaker, chief whip and the mayoral committee. The content of this message implies that the mayoral committee has committed to making ‘salary’ payments to Higgins, Louw, and Manyati by Friday, 31 May 2019,” Trollip’s statement reads.
Trollip further alleged that this was proof that the three councillors were promised financial inducement to collapse the previous DA-led administration, led by the former mayor.
“Such actions amount to abusing state resources for political gain and is another prime example of state capture under an ANC-led government.
“These arrangements also defy the wishes of the electorate – the people of Nelson Mandela Bay in 2016 voted for change and a new government not another incarnation of a corrupt ANC government,” Trollip said.
Trollip further said: “It has also come to light that Louw and Higgins received salary payments for an extended period after the Port Elizabeth High Court had found that they were no longer councillors.”
The DA will take the necessary steps to ensure that money paid irregularly to these former councillors are urgently recouped, Trollip added.
Trollip said in 2016 that the ANC under former mayor Danny Jordaan allegedly employed the same financial inducement tactic when seven DA councillors defected from the DA to join the ANC.
“In July 2016, Mr Jordaan allegedly instructed the municipality to pay salaries to these councillors, even though they had been removed from office. It is irregular and unlawful to pay a councillor salary to anyone who is not a bona fide councillor.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)