FILE PICTURE: DA Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay Athol Trollip
UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani’s fate could be sealed if the council votes to remove him as deputy mayor of the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay metro next week.

That is if DA executive mayor Athol Trollip garners enough votes from the opposition parties to remove his nemesis from the influential position.

The two have been butting heads, in what has been described as a fight between two elephants, over the running of the metro. Their differences led to Trollip removing Bobani as a member of the mayoral committee responsible for the public health directorate this week.

The mayor said the process to have Bobani removed as deputy mayor “will be pursued through council”, during a sitting scheduled for Tuesday in Port Elizabeth.

Intense lobbying was said to be taking place ahead of the council meeting, and Trollip has allegedly approached the EFF, among other parties, in a bid to get them to support the motion against Bobani when it comes before council.

The DA has 57 seats out of 120 in council. Its coalition partners are the UDM (2 seats), Cope (1) and ACDP (1). The rest of the seats are held by the ANC (50), EFF (6), while the United Front, AIC and Patriotic Alliance each hold one seat.

A high-ranking municipal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was highly unlikely that the DA’s coalition partners would support the motion. The DA would need four votes for the motion to pass.

Yesterday Trollip’s chief of staff, Kristoff Adelbert, told The Star: “The motion is not yet prepared, but may very well still go to council.

“On Tuesday, the mayor intended to ask the council to remove councillor Bobani as deputy mayor. But there are party-political discussions that are taking place now.”

Adelbert said he was not aware of any behind-the-scenes lobbying taking place to ensure the motion passed. But he said Trollip enjoyed the support of “quite a number of councillors” who admired his anti-corruption posture and leadership style.

Adelbert said the mayor had acted in accordance with his commitment to ensure good governance and rid the metro of corruption when he removed Bobani from his crucial public health directorate.

“The directorate had been of concern for a number of months, given serious allegations of maladministration and impropriety, all of which are being investigated,” Trollip said on Tuesday.

He also lashed out at Bobani’s public behaviour and conduct as “unacceptable as a member of my mayoral committee and not consistent with what is expected of a deputy mayor”.

Another official privy to details said that at the heart of the animosity between the two leaders were allegations that Bobani was protecting “corrupt municipal officials”, while Trollip was accused of unilateral decisions.

“It’s not like the coalition has collapsed, but the DA will be lobbying very hard for the EFF to side with them to remove Bobani as deputy mayor,” said the official.

EFF councillor Yoliswa Yako said their caucus had been “engaged on the matter” by the ruling coalition, but she said they would take a mandate from the EFF national leadership on the way forward.

“As the EFF caucus, we are watching these developments from the sidelines, because we are not part of the coalition.

“We view the matter as two elephants who are wrestling for space, but the ground must not suffer,” she said. She called on Trollip and Bobani to sort out the matter among themselves as adults.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu referred questions to party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. He did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

Bobani refused to comment.

UDM secretary-general Bongani Msomi told The Star: “We are aware about the problem between Bobani and Trollip.

“As coalition partners, we have asked for both parties to tell us their side of the story so that we can solve the issues amicably. We don’t want to speculate at this point.”

DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe, said: “The leadership of the coalition partners have agreed to come together to ensure the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition stays. They’ll meet in the next few days as this is an urgent matter that needs to be resolved.”