Mayor Athol Trollip File picture: Luvuyo Mehlwana/Reuters
Port Elizabeth - The status of Nelson Mandela Bay coalition government has reached a tipping point with Executive Mayor Athol Trollip announcing on Tuesday, that he had taken a decision to axe Deputy Mayor Mongameli Bobani from the position of Mayoral Committee member heading the public health directorate.
At an impromptu media briefing on Tuesday afternoon Trollip said the process to have Bobani removed as the deputy mayor would be pursued through council.
Bobani will remain deputy mayor as he was elected into the position by a full council and can only be removed by the same council.
The move follows months of simmering tension between the two who have been at loggerheads over a series of issues around governance and staff appointments.
Just last month Bobani opened fraud cases against City Manager Johan Mettler and Acting Executive Director of Corporate Services, Vuyo Zitumane.
"Councillor Bobani's public behaviour and conduct has been unacceptable as a member of my Mayoral Committee and not consistent with what is expected of a Deputy Mayor," said Trollip.
"I have attempted on numerous occasions to address councillor Bobani's conduct through the UDM's National Leadership. Councillor Bobani has gone too far with his continued unsubstantiated defamatory remarks, spurious public statements and recently laid criminal charges against senior executive administrators."
Trollip said that he had written to UDM leader Bantu Holomisa expressing his grievances and asked if the UDM sought to nominate a replacement for Bobani.
The Mayor said that he had not received a response from Holomisa - who had until the close of business on Tuesday to do so.
"Apparently [Democratic Alliance leader] Mmusi Maimane has received correspondence from Bantu Holomisa withdrawing from the coalition government," said Trollip.
The DA's Federal Executive Chairperson, James Selfe told ANA that he had received second handed information indicating that the UDM had withdrawn from the coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay.
"My information is second-hand, Mr Maimane told me that he had received a phone call from General Holomisa saying that he had taken a decision to withdraw from the coalition government," said Selfe.
But when ANA contacted Holomisa for comment to confirm if the UDM had in fact withdrawn from the coalition in the Bay he simply said: "I am not going to be tossed around by the DA, let him [Athol Trollip] provide proof to that," he said before hanging up.
Trollip said the decision to remove Bobani had been coming along for quite some time adding that there was instability in the coalition for some months because of "Bobani's behaviour".
"It started overtly in mid-December where councillor Bobani was insisting that payments be made to people who were either under suspension, whose contracts had been stopped or who were making irregular demands for payments. That was the first time there was real instability," he said.
"The situation we had was untenable. We had a coalition partner who gain says every single decision in council- so sitting in a mayco with councillor Bobani was like sitting in a circular firing squad."
Trollip said there was a complete breakdown in trust and looking forward a replacement MMC would be announced in due course, until such time the public health portfolio will be headed by Trollip himself.
"If we have to be a minority coalition so be it, now it's back to negotiations with other political parties about making this city work and getting back to work," he said.
African News Agency