Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha has rejected the election of Nqaba Bhanga as Nelson Mandela Bay’s new mayor.
In a letter to Nelson Mandela Bay Speaker Buyelwa Mafaya, dated 8 December, Nqatha said the department received a report from acting city manager Anele Qaba on the council sitting on Friday that led to Bhanga’s election.
“According to the report, it clearly shows that the election of the acting speaker by councillors to preside over the election of an executive mayor was done in contravention of [the] terms of section 36 (3) of [the] Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998. Neither the acting city manager nor a person designated by the MEC presided over the election of the acting speaker on 4 December. The election of the acting speaker was therefore wrongful, unlawful and null and void,” he said.
Bhanga, the Eastern Cape DA leader, was elected as the new mayor during a chaotic council meeting on Friday.
His election followed a marathon council meeting at the Port Elizabeth City Hall, which began at 11am, and featured numerous adjournments and high drama.
Bhanga was the only nominee and was elected mayor at around 21.20pm.
The news was met with cheers and applause.
Earlier that afternoon, a group of men seemingly barged into the chamber and forcibly removed speaker Mafaya from her chair before the vote was due to take place.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki earlier said the hybrid meeting was adjourned after a group of men walked into the hall and caused a commotion.
“… security guards had to come in and try to resolve the issue,” Mniki said.
Mafaya later logged back into the virtual meeting and sounded shaken and emotional.
“I am in casualty at St George’s Hospital,” Mafaya said while panting.
“I am going to open a case after this [at Mount Road police station],” she said.
Mafaya was replaced by Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels, who presided over the election of Bhanga.
Nqatha said all action taken by Daniels were “null and void”.
“You are therefore requested to convene a special council meeting in order to comply with the court order urgently as your municipality does not have an executive mayor as the process leading to his appointment was tainted with flaws and not compliant with legislation,” Nqatha instructed Mafaya.
In a statement, the ANC regional task team condemned the events at the council sitting, saying it was characterised by gross criminality and an incident of gender-based violence.
The ANC said the use of teargas and violent physical harassment, as well as threats against Qaba and his family, must be harshly condemned.
Regional task team coordinator Luyolo Nqakula said the ANC has called for the reconvening of council to re-elect a mayor.
“Equally we wish to reject the purported election of Bhanga as a mayor. The council decorum was undermined and compromised and resulted in the abortion of the meeting legally, procedurally and in line with the council rules of order (sic). The desperation of the DA and its allies to declare Bhanga as an executive mayor under purported acting speaker Daniels is not only flawed and unlawful as it is not in line with the Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998 (36) (3).
“However, we understand the thirst of the DA to taste power and cling to it even if it means that it will employ scrupulous (sic) means as to gain access to resources and reverse the achievements of our movement,” Nqakula said.
The reaction of the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay will be added to the story once received.