Today, 17 October 2019, the Speaker of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Cllr Buyelwa Mafaya, unlawfully postponed a special council meeting and an ordinary council meeting. This decision was ostensibly made on the strength of advice received from the South African Police Service (SAPS) regarding an imminent and real safety threat to all councillors.
Cllr Mafaya initially made this announcement by sending a SMS to all councillors.
This has been exposed as a lie after Eastern Cape Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga released a statement refuting that the meeting was called off after being advised to do so by the SAPS. Lieutenant-General Ntshinga confirmed that the police were in a state of readiness to maintain law and order at the council chambers.
The Speakers decision was clearly based on self-interest and the self-preservation of herself and NMB Executive Mayor Mongameli Bobani.
The Speaker of Council was petitioned by 117 of the 120 councillors to convene a special council meeting. The Speaker has no discretion in this regard and the rules provide that she MUST call and convene a duly requested meeting.
The DA, ACDP and COPE councillors went to the Council Chambers and experienced no threat to their safety despite a pathetic protest picket outside the council chamber by members of the United Front (UF)/ Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP).
What made this picket completely outrageous and unacceptable are the blatant threats of violence made yesterday by the UF/SRWP and the fact that they barred the council chamber entrance by stringing their party banner across the entrance. This is tantamount to a political coup d’etat by the smallest party in the council. What is more is their relationship with Mayor Bobani and their protection of him is based on a blood pact of corruption and criminality that links their regional leader, Mr Mvuleni Mapu, and Mayor Bobani.
What transpired today with the “stay-away” of all the other parties that signed the petition for the special council meeting to debate the Motion of No Confidence (MONC) against the Mayor, is testament to the fact the Cllr Bobani has not only captured the City, but that he has for all intents and purposes captured all these parties too. Of greatest concern though is the fact that the ANC has also allowed itself to be divided and captured by one rogue councillor.
The collapsed state of this administration is now no longer solely about Mayor Bobani’s irregular and unlawful practices, it is now about the whole coalition of corruption and its executive.
Calling off the regular council meeting has a profound impact on everyone in the City. For one, we could not consider the critical appointments of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and other executive directors.
This has a direct consequence for our financial health and statutory financial funding allocations. Secondly we were not able to consider and decide on crucial service delivery issues that affect everyone’s day to day lives.
Thirdly we could not consider and decide on countless zoning applications, land acquisitions, business transactions, City and sports events such as the Iron Man and Volvo Ocean Racing Series, and tourism issues. The fact that this could not be done serve only to compound the already critical unemployment challenge in the City. Our City administration has effectively been emasculated by this rogue executive and their mayor.
The cancellation of these council meetings preceded by a 6 week recess period and the fact that we haven’t had a council meeting for months has all but rendered this City ungoverned and the current government unaccountable to the citizens of the City.
The DA, COPE and ACDP have for months now reached out to all the political parties in this council to appeal to them to put the City first. This also led to historical direct negotiations with the ANC at local, regional and provincial level. This has all come to naught despite their undertakings of commitment to putting the future of the City first and removal of Bobani.
The Metro is therefore again labouring under a hung council. Only this time the balance of power, or “king maker” status, vests with the opposition coalition.
We therefore are going to seek a directory interdict or an order of mandamus to order the Speaker to reconvene an urgent meeting and to provide the necessary security for this to proceed.
We will also call on the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and the Eastern Cape MEC of CoGTA to dissolve the council and go to fresh elections to ensure that the City can once more be governed by a responsible and accountable administration.
The government impasse that has now befallen our City is NOT “a Boys argument” as so blithely described by Mayor Bobani’s leader and UDM president Bantu Holomisa. It is now a full blown crisis of collapsed government, where services are not being rendered in wards across the City.
All DA ward and PR councillors and their colleagues from the ACDP and COPE were at their posts today to do what they were elected to do. The ANC and the one EFF ward councillors and their colleagues were conspicuous by their absence and their carelessness towards the residents.
This cannot be allowed to continue at the expense of the residents of our City.
Nelson Mandela Bay Opposition Coalition
Athol Trollip (Democratic Alliance)
Siyasanga Sijadu (COPE)
Lance Grootboom (ACDP)
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