PORT ELIZABETH - Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Mongameli Bobani refused to answer any questions on the uncertain future of City Manager Johan Mettler after a motion of his suspension on green paper was moved at a council meeting on Friday.
The motion was discussed behind closed doors by the metro’s new leadership and two Democratic Alliance (DA) councillors who went rogue by pitching for the meeting while their colleagues boycotted the sitting.
Just over a week ago, at his first media briefing as mayor, 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.
Mettler told African News Agency (ANA) that he had not received any notice of suspension.
Meanwhile, with the help of the two rogue councillors the meeting managed to quorate. DA councillor, Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins pitched without their colleagues bringing the number of councillors in the house to 62. Louw told reporters that he was quitting politics and leaving the DA because of his ailing health.
He said he was at the meeting to hand in his resignation letter. Louw claimed that he was attacked and assaulted outside chambers before the meeting commenced.
Aggressive protesters lingered outside the building on Friday waiting for Louw to resurface. Speaker Buyelwa Mafaya claimed that the protesters were DA members, however the protesters did not wear any DA regalia. Rina Potgieter, a secretary for a DA ward 13 in Helenvale was also spotted in the crowd.
The small group called Louw a “traitor” and pushed and shoved members of the media who were filming the gathering in a public space.
Meanwhile, Higgins said that he was merely at the council meeting to resign as a councillor. He would not be drawn into further comment on the matter.
African National Congress (ANC) councillor Bongo Nombiba was at the council meeting walking a very thin line. Nombiba had until 3pm on Friday to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein for leave to appeal his fraud conviction and five year jail term.
By the close of business on Friday, no papers had been filed. Failure to submit his papers to the SCA would mean that he is in breach of his bail conditions imposed on him by the Grahamstown High Court.
At a press conference after the council meeting, Bobani outright refused to answer any questions around Mettler citing that staff matters were treated as confidential.
“We are not going to debate and discuss decisions taken on green. With what you are asking about Johan Mettler, the CFO, and public health, sorry ladies and gentleman matters on green we are not going to discuss.”
“We are not going to contravene our own rules. Can you allow us the space to stick with our own rules,” said Bobani.
Mettler was earlier seen leaving the building while councillors debated green confidential items on the agenda.
Old faces emerged at the council meeting on Friday, including that of former Nelson Mandela Bay communications boss, Roland Williams. Williams was convicted of insurance fraud and earlier this year sentenced to correctional supervision. Williams was irate with the media, after journalists tweeted that correctional supervision included that he was under house arrest.
He then took it upon himself to clarify to ANA which specific hours he was under house arrest.
Turning to former mayor Athol Trollip, council resolved to institute disciplinary proceedings against him. ANC councillor Rory Riordan said that Trollip had used a PwC draft forensic report to get rid of Bobani at the time he was serving as deputy mayor of the metro.
Riordan said Trollip submitted the draft report to his party leader Mmusi Maimane, which was against the law.
"He [Trollip] admitted to breaking the law. The law says a draft forensic report is confidential until such time it is made final by Pwc and presented to council, only then can it be made public. But he used it in his campaign to get rid of councillor Bobani...it was illegal and he must bare the consequences," said Riordan.