Protesters come out in support of Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Mongameli Bobani. PHOTO: Raahil Sain/ANA
Port Elizabeth – Opposition parties have come out in support of Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Mongameli Bobani as tensions over his position in the City mounted.

Opposition parties cheered on in support of Bobani and demounced Executive Mayor Athol Trollip Last week Trollip took a decision to axe Bobani from his mayoral committee team heading up the public health directorate.

The decision followed months of simmering tensions between the two who have been at loggerheads over a staff appointments and issues around governance. During the council meeting on Tuesday, an item on the agenda regarding the selling of a particular piece of land in the metro was strongly opposed by the African National Congress (ANC), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the United Democratic Movement (UDM) to whom Bobani belongs, and the United Front (UF).

The opposition parties wanted the matter to go to debate, however Trollip deferred the item. However, things came to head when during a brief adjournment, ANC, EFF, African Independent Conference (AIC) and UF councillors started cheering on in support of Bobani.

"We don't want Trollip, we want Bobani!" ANC councillor's were heard singing. At one stage the atmosphere got even more heated when Speaker Jonathan Lawack asked Bobani and Siseko Plaatjies of the ANC to leave the house.

"I'm not going anywhere, I'm the deputy mayor, unless you want to collapse this meeting," retorted Bobani. Both Bobani and Plaatjies refused to leave council chambers. Outside the council meeting, UDM and COPE members took to the streets to speak out against Trollip.

Opposition parties cheer on Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Mongameli Bobani during a council meeting adjournment. Video: Raahil Sain/ANA

Some of the placards read: "Bobani please help us!", "Gone with Trollip", "Stop ignoring us mayor." COPE regional spokesperson, Thembalani Kondile, accused Trollip of "bullying" Bobani.

"That is something that doesn't affect Bobani on his own, it affects all of us as a black caucus. We are here today to say hands off our brother," said Kondile. Trollip, after announcing his decision to axe Bobani, had requested UDM leader, Bantu Holomisa, to find a replacement for Bobani.

At the time Trollip said that the process to have Bobani removed would be pursued through a motion at council. Coalition partners and party leaders Holomisa and Mmusi Maimane of the DA met on Monday and issued a statement saying the coalition government was "stable" and the ultimatum put to the UDM to remove Bobani as the deputy mayor had been withdrawn.

"A small committee of members from each party to the coalition has been formed to keep open communications and to discuss matters within the coalition, so that our relations grow stronger. This committee will begin by considering the issues raised in NMB recently between the Mayor and Deputy Mayor," the statement said.

"To this end, the ultimatum put to the UDM to remove the deputy mayor has been withdrawn between the parties and instead the small committee will resolve the matter."

However, Maimane, in a statement on Tuesday, said: "The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns in the strongest terms the actions of Councillor Mongameli Bobani in today's sitting of the Nelson Mandela Bay Council.

UDM and COPE members protest outside the Woolboard Exchange building where a Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting got under way. Video: Raahil Sain/ANA

His actions are completely unacceptable and are against the very spirit of our coalition agreement, and the discussions we held last night to resolve the conflict in Nelson Mandela Bay.

"It has become clear that Councillor Bobani is not committed to governing for the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, and instead seeks to continue his disruptive and divisive behaviour which is unbecoming of a Deputy Mayor. In almost every way possible, Cllr Bobani has acted to undermine the coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay, and his behaviour today requires that stern action must be taken against him.

"As the DA, our first responsibility is to the voters of Nelson Mandela Bay, and we must protect the coalition government's ability to deliver quality services to residents. We cannot allow one man to hold the people of Nelson Mandela Bay to ransom."

"We therefore insist the United Democratic Movement (UDM) take urgent and immediate action against Cllr Bobani, and that this matter be resolved so that the Council meeting can reconvene and get on with the business of delivering services to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay."