Port Elizabeth - The Patriotic Alliance (PA) officially has its foot in the door with the DA-led coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay after it was announced on Monday, that the party's Marlon Daniels would take over the reigns at the public health directorate.
The department was once run by ousted deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani before he was axed from his mayoral committee position by Mayor Athol Trollip.
In May this year, Trollip recalled Bobani as Mayoral Committee Member for Public Health citing that the directorate had been a concern for a number of months, amidst allegations of maladministration under Bobani's watch.
Milongani Eco Consulting, which was contracted to the municipality's public health services and appointed in June 2015 "irregularly", according to a forensic investigation draft report.
According to the draft report, Trollip said that the very next day after Milongani was appointed, the company was paid R1.5 million.
Trollip together with his Mayco team and coalition partners held a press conference on Monday to discuss the current state of the coalition government following the axing of the United Democratic Movement's (UDM) Bobani as deputy mayor last week, at a council meeting with a vote of 60 from the Democratic Alliance (DA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), PA and Congress of the People (COPE).
"Since then Milongani has taken R25 million from the municipality, I then instructed no more payments to be made to a company that cannot account for any work done. When I heard that payments were proceeding and invoices were submitted I had no alternative but to act and remove councillor Bobani from public health," said Trollip.
Since then five officials from the department have been suspended. Trollip said on the day of their suspension there were allegations made that documents were shredded and computers wiped in the public health directorate.
Human Settlements political head, Nqaba Bhanga told a press conference that at the time Bobani continuously tried to to get mayoral committee members to lift the officials suspension.
Trollip said that Bobani had consistently counted on support from the African National Congress, forcing the DA-led coalition to operate as a minority. Bobani had made the working environment so untenable citing one instance they were unable to have a meeting with two leaders representing the World Bank, he said.
Trollip said that Bobani wrote to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Des Van Rooyen, to prevent appointments from being made.
"Only on one occasion in January did [Bobani] and his colleague vote with the DA and that was on the budget because he was instructed by his party leadership to support the budget," Trollip said.
"So we only ever had 59, now we have 60 fully supportive votes that will vote on an issue by issue basis, so we better off and yes it's going to be difficult but I said before it won't be easy and coalition governments are not easy. But 60 is better than 59 in my book."
The DA-led coalition is made up of 57 DA seats, one ACDP seat, one COPE seat and one PA seat. The council constitutes a total of 120 seats.
"And if necessary we will use the Speaker's casting vote."
Trollip said the PA's Marlon Daniels approached him earlier in June saying that he could not "stomach the coalition not being able to pass items in council". Since then there had been continuous engagements between the two.
Trollip announced that the PA had signed the co-governance agreement and there were no objections from other political parties. Daniels would now be asked to head up the mayoral portfolio for public health.
Meanwhile, the UDM has indicated that it would look to the courts for a remedy following Bobani's axing. Bobani told ANA on Monday that he was consulting with his lawyers, and no papers had been filed.
Trollip however believes the decision to have Bobani removed is beyond reproach, adding that coalition partners would decide on who was best for the vacant deputy mayor position.
The appointment of a deputy mayor is expected to take place at the next council meeting.
Just minutes before the motion went to vote on Thursday, Bobani was seen whispering in the ear and patting Trollip on the back before exiting the chamber.
"I was telling him don't be personal, be a gentlemen and ensure that as the mayor you run this city by the book. Talk to your people not to mess around but you can see he didn't want to shake hands with me," Bobani said at the time.
Trollip, however, said that it was definitely not an embrace of love.
"He put his arm around my neck and said I beat you, F you. That speaks volumes - that it is about beating me for him," said Trollip.