PORT ELIZABETH, March 28 (ANA and staff reporter) – 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, and if an open letter to the ANC penned by PA leader Gayton McKenzie – exclusively run by Africa News 24-7 and then later picked up by other news sites – is anything to go by, the mayor will be staying put.
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 PA leader, Gayton Mckenzie, stated in his open letter that his party would now back the DA in the no confidence motion against Trollip.
Mckenzie said any Councillor voting against Trollip on Thursday would be “engaging in an act of racism”.
In the letter he also accused the EFF of using the land expropriation issue as a ruse for “naked racism”.
Mckenzie said EFF Leader Julius Malema and his party were “crudely displaying” racism with threats against white people.
“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,” said the PA leader.
“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.”
The PA leader added: “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.”