PORT ELIZABETH - Nelson Mandela Bay is set to be a buzz of political activity on Wednesday, ahead of an all-important council meeting which has the potential to break up the fragile Democratic Alliance (DA)-led coalition under the leadership of Mayor Athol Trollip.
With all the other opposition parties having indicated that they will support a bid to oust Trollip at the special council sitting on Thursday, it would appear that the future of the DA-led coalition in the city rests with which way the Patriotic Alliance (PA) will vote.
On Tuesday, PA councillor Marlon Daniels said that no deal had been finalised.
In August last year, Daniels tabled a motion to remove former deputy mayor of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Mongameli Bobani, which was ultimately successful.
Subsequent to the move, Daniels joined the DA-led coalition government but then withdrew three months later.
The PA had threatened to terminate its agreement with the DA if Daniels was not elected into the deputy mayor position. At the time Daniels was adamant that he should be nominated for the vacant position of deputy, but Trollip insisted that the position would remain vacant.
In November, Daniels and Bobani filed a motion of no confidence against Trollip and council Speaker Jonathan Lawack which ultimately did not succeed when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) backed Trollip at the time.
The PA has been hell bent on obtaining the deputy mayor position as well as the position of political head for safety and security.
Earlier this month, the EFF, which helped the DA to gain control of the metro from the African National Congress (ANC) after the August 2016 local government elections, filed a motion of no confidence against Trollip.
The EFF needs the support of every other opposition party, including the ANC to make up the 61-vote majority in the council of 120 seats.
The DA, with its remaining coalition partners the Congress of the People (Cope) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), together have 59 seats, while the ANC has 50, the EFF six, the UDM two and the PA, AIC and United Front one each.
In the run up to the vote on the motion sponsored by the EFF, the DA will hold a "Save Nelson Mandela Bay" rally at Vuyisile Mini Square at midday on Wednesday, while firebrand EFF leader Julius Malema is expected to address a rally at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton on Wednesday afternoon.
The EFF has vowed to “punish" the DA for refusing to support its motion for land expropriation without compensation in the National Assembly recently.
"We are speaking to the people of Nelson Mandela on the 28 March 2018 about the future of their Municipality. We are accountable to our people, not to whiteness. (sic)" Malema tweeted.
At the last motion of no confidence brought against Trollip, he survived by means of the EFF’s six votes, but the red berets have since made an about-turn and said it would back a credible ANC mayoral candidate such as former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
The ANC in the province has since refuted claims that a mayoral candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay had been decided upon.
In a statement on Tuesday, the ANC said that talks with other opposition parties were at a sensitive stage.
"The ANC is in talks with other opposition parties to form a government that will address the socio-economic transformation in the Metro .The talks are guided by principles of working together to identify a credible Executive Mayor. It is for this reason that the ANC appreciates the cooperation of other political parties to form a coalition government."
The ANC said it would communicate "the package" to govern Nelson Mandela Bay before the special council meeting on Thursday.
"The PEC [Provincial Executive Committee] expressed the view that the ANC should pursue an approach on coalition that puts the interests of the communities’ first. As the ANC we want to reiterate that we support the motion of no-confidence," the statement read.
However, the balance of power seemed to have shifted late Tuesday when Patriotic Alliance leader, Gayton Mckenzie, stated in an open letter that his party would now back the DA in the no confidence motion against Trollip.
Last year the PA lodged the first motion of no confidence against Trollip, but the motion failed because the EFF with its crucial six votes went against it.
Mckenzie said that at the last motion of no confidence against Trollip the PA was unhappy with the direction the metro was taking at the time, but the party has yet again changed its tune.
Mckenzie said that any councillor voting against Trollip on Thursday would be "engaging in an act of racism". He accused the EFF of using the land expropriation issue as a ruse for "naked racism".
Mckenzie came out to support Trollip while taking aim at EFF Leader Julius Malema accusing his party of crudely displaying racism with threats against white people. He criticized leaders of the ANC in the face of the EFF's "naked racism".
"Your silence comes from your thirst for power in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. You dare not speak up because Malema will turn on you again and allow Trollip to stay. You have been cowed into submission by the dangerous yapping of this demagogue who is taking this country down a dangerous path.
"At what point will you decide to find your voice, ANC, and say he has stepped over the line? If you are okay with someone saying they will be cutting people’s throats, how will you react when throats actually do get cut?"
"Trollip didn't become white yesterday. He was born white. Let’s not be fooled by those who were comfortable handing power to the same white Trollip and who are now screaming that he’s too white for their liking and should go. We cannot support a motion of no confidence against a man when the only apparent basis for that motion is that the man in question happens to be white.
Let’s be clear: anyone voting against Trollip on Thursday will be engaging in an act of racism, and the PA will not partake in it even if the EFF will try to dress it up as a punishment over differences about land expropriation."
Mckenzie further labeled Malema as a "fake" claiming that he stands for nothing except for what he stands to gain, accusing the ANC of having "gifted" Malema with the power of deciding what should be done with land.
He said that he ANC had prided itself on its values of non-racialism, but in the face of Malema, the ruling party of the country fell silent for Malema to "stomp on and destroy".
"Make no mistake, I am a proponent of the return of the land without compensation – but not through the vitriol and spit-lined language of racism. This is something I will never agree with,"
He vowed that come Thursday Trollip would be going nowhere and the PA would not be manipulated.
"Malema and his mad ego might have allowed him to believe he is now leading the ANC. But he doesn’t lead the PA. And he certainly will not be leading Port Elizabeth come Good Friday if the Patriotic Alliance has anything to do with it."
African News Agency/ANA