Opposition coalition against Trollip gets more time as they bicker over replacement

The opposition coalition trying to remove embattled Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip is bickering over who should replace him, threatening the success of their motion of no confidence in him.

The motion, which is the second brought against Trollip in just five months, was initially expected to be debated on Friday after a demand from opposition parties.

However, they now have more time after speaker Jonathan Lawack set down the debate for next week instead.

On Wednesday, Lawack sent out a notice stating there would be no sitting on Friday. Instead, their issues would be debated on August 16, 2018.

"Having taken advice and with due regard to the applicable legislation, importantly read in conjunction with the Rule of Order, I am unable to accede to your request for a council meeting of 10 August 2018 at 14h00," Lawack wrote.

The coalition, which includes the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), ANC, Patriotic Alliance (PA), African Independent Congress (AIC), United Front and United Democratic Movement (UDM), called for a motion of no confidence in Trollip and Lawack.

Together, these parties have a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat council and would therefore be able to pass any motions tabled.

Coalition could collapse

Divisions over Trollip's replacement emerged as the EFF released a statement in which it said it would not support any mayoral candidate from the PA, but was willing to engage with other political parties to present a different candidate.

It called the PA a party of "thugs and fraudsters".

"Our hatred for racism will never be manipulated to vote a party of unrepentant fraudsters. [The] Economic Freedom Fighters will never give the City of Nelson Mandela to thugs," spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

The PA saved Trollip during a motion of no confidence brought forward by the EFF in March. The debate that continued in April was chaotic and Lawack was forced to adjourn after a shouting match that lasted for about 90 minutes.

"We reiterate that we remain committed to support an alternative candidate that is morally sound, anti-racist and capable of leading a pro-poor agenda in the City of Nelson Mandela Bay," Ndlozi said.

A source told News24 that if the coalition failed to agree on a candidate, it could collapse.

According to the UDM, the EFF signed off two lists.

'You have to work with other parties'

The first list had the PA's Marlon Daniels cited as mayor and the second had the UDM's Mongameli Bobani as mayor and Daniels as deputy mayor.

Bobani said the UDM would push for him to become mayor. He said the parties must prioritise political stability in the fragile metro.

Trollip's woes started last year after relations with Bobani, who was then-deputy mayor, broke down.

"There is no winner, even if you're the mayor. You have to work with other parties, so there is no point in bickering here and fighting about positions. Let's just resolve this," Bobani said.

The ANC's Andile Lungisa also played down the disagreement over who should become mayor, saying talks on forming a new government were continuing. He disputed that the coalition was crumbling.

"We are not going to fail this time. We are going to succeed. We will open the lines of communication and make sure that we go as a solid block of all the parties, especially the black caucus," he said.

"I think we will continue to support the talks until we remove Trollip," Lungisa added.

Referring to the shifting of the debate to next week, Lungisa said it was a tactic to avoid a debate over the removal of the DA in government.