PORT ELIZABETH - A Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting has come to a standstill on Monday afternoon. 

Earlier on Monday, Council Speaker Jonathan Lawack was removed when Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Victor Manyati abstained from the vote. 

The motion was brought by the United Democratic Movement's (UDM) Mongameli Bobani. Votes tallied were 59 against and 60 for the motion. 

City Manager Johan Mettler took over the reigns in presiding over the meeting. 

Upon seeking legal advice, Mettler took the decision to declare a vacancy after DA Federal Executive Chairperson James Selfe wrote a letter indicating that Manyati’s membership had been terminated. 

In the letter, Selfe asked Mettler to declare a vacancy.

Manyati earlier said he would not vote with the DA on any other motion, including a motion expected to be brought to have Mayor Athol Trollip removed. 

“I’ve taken a sober decision not to vote with the DA today. I have personal reasons. I need change in this metro, in fact I need change not only in the metro but in the entire country.” 

Manyati said that he would be leaving the DA and claimed that black councillors were unhappy within the party. 

He later denied telling the media he would be leaving the DA.

After Mettler declared a vacancy the DA and its coalition partners left the chambers. 

Opposition parties were unhappy and insisted that the election of a new speaker take place. 

However, after declaring a vacancy, Mettler said there was no quorum and left chambers. 

Opposition parties continued to sit in chambers while the African National Congress' (ANC) Andile Lungisa said member of the executive council (MEC) Fikile Xasa would be sending an official to preside over the meeting. 

Then in a new twist, the ANC’s Rory Riordan alleged that Mettler would retract declaring a vacancy and that a council meeting would reconvene within seven days. 

The ANC’s Rory Riordan shows reporters an SMS from City Manager Johan Mettler. PHOTO: Raahil Sain/ANA

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African News Agency (ANA)