PORT ELIZABETH - The newly-elected coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay City are determined to take over the reins at City Hall while the Democratic Alliance and its partners have showed defiance by refusing to acknowledge a shift in power.
City Hall was abuzz on Tuesday morning following the removal of Athol Trollip as the executive mayor on Monday.
Trollip's nemesis, new Mayor Mongameli Bobani, his deputy Tshonono Buyeye and the newly-formed mayoral committee team arrived at City Hall on Tuesday to assume their duties.
MMC for Corporate Services Makhi Feni told journalists that they could not access the mayor's office for a meeting because it was still locked. On the top floor of City Hall, the new leadership sat behind closed doors with municipal manager Johan Mettler in his office, while next door former MMC for Economic Development, Rano Kayser, said it was "business as usual" and chaired a committee meeting with other DA councillors.
The new leadership of Nelson Mandela Bay, together with Mettler, later sat down together at a press conference to introduce the new team under the leadership of Bobani. Notably, Mettler said that he would not be making any statements on the events which had unfolded the day before when both Trollip and Speaker Jonathan Lawack were ousted with the help of DA councillor Victor Manyati whose abstention allowed the opposition to triumph.
Bobani said that Mettler was instructed not to make any statements and added that Mettler would focus purely on administration and clearing out of the offices so that the new political leadership could assume their duties.
Bobani had kind words for Mettler and praised him for doing a good job, even though earlier this year Bobani accused him of misconduct and misappropriation of municipal funds. In an open letter Bobani had alleged that Mettler had "fraudulently signed" a contract with Mohlaleng Media, a contract subject to a probe by auditors after it emerged the company was paid R20.8 million when its contract was capped at R10 million.
Buyeye said that the new coalition would iron things out and for now Mettler was the city manager as appointed by council in 2016. "We have no issues, we will engage with him and everything is running smooth so we have no issues. If there is anything that the executive mayor feels that needs to be brought to the attention of this collective, we will deal with that. But as of now, Johan Mettler is the city manager."
Lurking in the shadows of the press briefing was former MMC for Budget and Treasury, Retief Odendaal, among other DA councillors who were present.
New MMC for Infrastructure and Engineering, Andile Lungisa told the briefing that the DA had failed dismally on Monday because they failed to read the mood of their own councillor. "A process was followed and legally the DA can't go to court but they'll go because they have money, they have trust funds. But our focus is to deliver services to our people."
At a dramatic council meeting on Monday, Trollip was voted out through a motion of no confidence brought by opposition parties. The first to go was Speaker Lawack who was ousted with the help of Manyati, whose DA membership was subsequently terminated after he told journalists that he planned to leave the party.
At a press conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that the party would be taking the council decision to remove Trollip on legal review. "We are of the opinion that the sitting was procedurally invalid and lacked legitimate authority to elect a new speaker and then subsequently to pass a motion of no confidence in the executive mayor."
Maimane said the party would seek out the best ways to declare the council sitting invalid.
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African News Agency (ANA)