Trollip survives as opposition walk out over late agendas

Motions of no confidence against Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip failed to materialise in council on Thursday, as members of the opposition collapsed the meeting, complaining that they had not received their council agendas in time.

The opposition parties - consisting of the African National Congress, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the United Democratic Movement, the African Independent Congress and United Front, together with the Patriotic Alliance - announced at the beginning of August that they had agreed to work together and remove the Democratic Alliance-led coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay.

At the time, the PA's Gayton McKenzie said they were done with the DA, and would be working with the opposition to remove them.

However, the opposition coalition quickly broke down after the EFF refused to back the PA councillor Marlon Daniels as their preferred mayoral candidate, despite the majority voting in his favour.

Following a late-night meeting between senior leaders of the respective parties, McKenzie announced that the PA would not support the vote of no confidence against Trollip, meaning the opposition would now not have 61 votes needed to pass the motion.

Council collapses as opposition parties leave

When council started, a representative from each of the opposition parties raised the issue of the agendas for the meeting being received late. They pointed out that the speaker, Jonathan Lawack,  had used the time frames specified in the rules to refuse them a special council meeting, and as such there could not be double standards.

Lawack then ruled that, while he accepted that some agendas had been late in being delivered, all parties had been notified of the meeting in line with the rules and wanted to proceed with the agenda, resulting in opposition members raising their voices, objecting to his ruling.

Subsequently, chief whip Werner Senekal called for a brief adjournment for the parties to caucus. Lawack granted the adjournment and the opposition parties left the council chambers, and never returned. This, in turn, led to the council not making quorum, and the meeting was adjourned.

Opposition labelled 'pathetic' and 'cowards'

Speaking during a press conference after the meeting collapsed, Congress of the People councillor Siyasanga Sijadu called the opposition members "pathetic."

"Today was yet again an example of how pathetic and immature some of the councillors are," she said.

Sijadu said opposition councillors had come with the intent to remove the coalition, but they had failed, and when they realised they had failed, they had run away scared.

"They have proven once again that they do not care whatsoever for the people of this city, as they attempt to stop service delivery.

"I appeal to the people of this country to recognise them for what they are, cowards. They do not deserve to be called leaders in our society," she said.

Trollip disappointed in Daniels

Trollip said that having the PA back was good for everybody, but admitted that he had been disappointed in Daniels.

"I have been disappointed by Marlon leaving the coalition, then coming back and then leaving again, but he and I have never had a bad word, we've never had an argument, we've never shouted at each other.

"I was disappointed, naturally, because I am responsible for the team, and if one of my team members walks out the team, I must take responsibility for it," he said.

Trollip had earlier referred to Daniels as a prodigal son and spoke of the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin, saying that when a coin or sheep was lost, you had to find it, but they were treated equally, none more precious than the other.

Trollip also confirmed that the coalition had given an undertaking that they would be putting Daniels forward as deputy mayor when the opportunity arose.

"The PA are interested in that position, we have made a commitment, all 60 of us, that we will support that," he said.

Daniels apologetic

An apologetic Daniels said before council started that the PA had never really left the coalition, but that they would be engaging with the DA and other coalition partners on various issues around the co-governance agreement.

"I want to make an apology. In life one takes decisions, like we did as a party, and we revisited it, and hence we are where we are," he said. 

Before council started, Daniels said the PA had never actually left the coalition.

"We never left the coalition, we never resigned from the coalition," he said.  

"There has been a lot of issues around the coalition. You know one can walk away from your partner, only to kiss and make up later," he said.

He said he had expressed his unhappiness with the coalition and had walked away but said, while the EFF were insulting the PA and calling them thugs and fraudsters, the DA was engaging with the PA leadership and mending fences.

After council was adjourned, Lawack said he would confirm a new date for the meeting to continue in due course.

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