The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a press conference in Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Federal Chairperson, Athol Trollip, and DA National Spokesperson, Solly Malatsi.
In 2016, the DA-led coalition government consisting of coalition partners DA, ACDP, COPE, and UDM – and later the PA – set out to eradicate corruption, deliver basic services and ensure people of Nelson Mandela Bay were able to find work. Throughout the challenges faced, we have seen many successes and shown real progress in delivering services to the people of NMB.
Yesterday, the people of Nelson Mandela Bay witnessed the newly formed coalition of corruption between the ANC, UDM and EFF banding together to undermine the will of the electorate by unlawfully removing its duly elected DA-led coalition government. This was a mock council meeting that elected a mock government, and we are of the view that yesterday’s proceedings are invalid in law.
The motivation for this unscrupulous move is clear: for the ANC, UDM and the EFF to gain unfettered access to public funds in order to fill their own pockets and their party coffers ahead of the 2019 national elections. This criminal behavior is well documented in Crispian Olver’s book, How to Steal a City. It is an attempt to steal the city back.
The scapegoat, too, is clear: the colour of Athol Trollip’s skin. This despite the incredible work the DA-led coalition government has done over the past 24 months to better the lives of the people of NMB by speeding up the delivery of basic services.
We categorically denounce this move and call it out for what it was – a political coup by this coalition of corruption hellbent on re-establishing patronage networks that enrich the few at the expense of the many. It is also disgraceful that the UDM – who forms part of the official coalition agreement that governs NMB – showed complete disregard for this agreement and voted with the ANC and the EFF in a new coalition of corruption. This is a party with 2% of the vote, and certainly does not have a mandate from the people of NMB.
Following consultation with our legal team, we have resolved to take council’s decision to remove Athol Trollip as Executive Mayor on legal review as we are of the opinion that the sitting was procedurally invalid and lacked legitimate authority to legally elect a new Speaker, and then subsequently pass the Motion of No Confidence in the Executive Mayor.
Specifically, Section 36(3) of the Municipal Structures Act (117 of 1998) states that:
“The municipal manager of the municipality or, if the municipal manager is not available, a person designated by the MEC for local government in the province, presides over the election of a speaker” (Emphasis added)
Following the removal of Speaker Jonathan Lawack, the Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler had adjourned the council sitting as quorum had been broken. Subsequent to that, the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Fikile Xasa, erroneously invoked Section 36(3) and designated an individual to preside over two decisions:
- The election of ANC Councillor, Buyelwa Mafaya, as Speaker; and
- The Motion of No Confidence in Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip.
Despite the fact that the Municipal Manager was both present and not incapacitate to preside over the sitting, he was denied his role by MEC Xasa and the person designated by him. This is in contravention of the clear requirements of the Municipal Structures Act and therefore renders the election of Buyelwa Mafaya as Speaker, and the subsequent Motion of No Confidence in Athol Trollip as invalid in law.
This coalition of corruption was also able to turn a DA councillor, Victor Manyathi, against us. They preyed on his legal and financial vulnerability to lure him into treachery. We have in any case served him notice of intention to cessate his DA membership.
The battle in NMB is between those who want to steal public money to make themselves rich, and those who are committed to ensuring public money is directed to creating work, building houses and roads, and delivering a clean, delivery-oriented government that serves all the people. Former President Jacob Zuma publicly admitted this when addressing the ANC’s Amathole regional conference in the Eastern Cape in 2017, stating that:
“Of all the metros, I won’t talk about the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, because you know all about it. We ruined it for years, bit by bit. Now the opposition is in charge. We cannot say we are surprised by that.”
And just last month, ANC Treasurer in the NMB Region, Mbulelo Gidane, alluded to the party’s dire financial situation in the region as follows:
“Let me scare you immediately – asinamali [we do not have money]. We are currently sitting at a deficit. Financially‚ our situation is critically bad.”
The EFF, UDM and other similar small parties have actively attempted to hand Nelson Mandela Bay back to the very thieves and crooks who had previously brought the metro to its knees. They will have to answer to the voters for this.
During the DA-led coalition government’s 24 months in government, great strides were made in turning iBhayi around and making real progress. This includes:
- 12 000 residents receiving running water and flush toilets in their homes for the very first time;
- The establishment of NMB’s first ever Metro Police Force, with two satellite stations in KwaNobuhle and Bethelsdorp, and 135 officers who have attended to over 25 000 crime fighting interactions;
- Eradicating 60% of the 16 000 bucket toilets inherited from the previous ANC government;
- Reducing gang related crime by 11% in Helenvale and surrounding areas over the past 6 months, due mainly to new Shot-spotter technology;
- Bringing the city to its best financial position in 10 years, with a surplus of R2 billion and a recently received AAA credit rating;
- Exposing and stopping corruption on contracts to the tune of R615 million;
- Tripling the number of EPWP jobs created annually; and
- Ensuring the city’s IPTS bus service is up and running, with busses on the road and serving the people.
This battle is far from over. We will not relent in our efforts to keep the hands of the corrupt cabal off of the people’s money in NMB. Athol Trollip and his coalition government have begun the work in stopping corruption, delivering better services and creating jobs. This work will continue.