DA at mercy of Bay op­po­si­tion par­ties

Bobani’s ax­ing leaves coun­cil hung and puts brakes on de­ci­sions

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Rochelle de Kock and Siyam­tanda Capa dekockr@ti­soblack­star.co.za

FRESH from a bat­tle where it suc­ceeded in boot­ing out Mongameli Bobani as deputy mayor, the Nel­son Man­dela Bay coali­tion gov­ern­ment is fac­ing a new cri­sis – it is at the mercy of op­po­si­tion par­ties to be able to prop­erly gov­ern the city. That is if the UDM fol­lows through on its threat to pull out of the coali­tion should Bobani not be re­in­stated by Mon­day, and if the ANC, EFF, AIC and United Front de­cide to play hard­ball and boy­cott coun­cil meet­ings. The DA-led coali­tion needs the back­ing of just one councillor from the op­po­si­tion ranks to be able to con­vene a coun­cil meet­ing on its own and pass bud­gets, by­laws and other fi­nance-re­lated items as a 61-mem­ber ma­jor­ity is needed.

Cur­rently, there is a hung coun­cil with a 60-60 mem­ber split be­tween the coali­tion – ex­clud­ing the UDM – and the op­po­si­tion.

The seat al­lo­ca­tions in the coun­cil are DA 57, ANC 50, EFF six, UDM two, and COPE, ACDP, United Front, AIC and PA one each.

The ef­fects of hav­ing a hung coun­cil were ev­i­dent at Thurs­day’s coun­cil meet­ing as the DA, ACDP, COPE and PA could not rub­ber-stamp amend­ments to the bud­get of the last fi­nan­cial year, as re­quired by law, be­cause the op­po­si­tion and UDM re­fused to sup­port it.

They ar­gued that the bud­get changes must be de­bated fur­ther at com­mit­tee meet­ings.

How­ever, the amend­ments must be ap­proved by the coun­cil by Thurs­day, which is the dead­line for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to sub­mit its an­nual fi­nan­cial state­ments to the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral.

Fail­ing to do so risks hav­ing tens of mil­lions of rands de­clared unau­tho­rised and ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture.

This would then have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s au­dit out­come for the 2016-17 fi­nan­cial year.

The amend­ments are for money that was spent in the past fi­nan­cial year but not nec­es­sar­ily on what it was orig­i­nally bud­geted for.

The changes then need to be reg­u­larised by the coun­cil.

Speak­ing about the ef­fects of be­ing one vote shy of an out­right ma­jor­ity, mayor Athol Trol­lip said yes­ter­day: “Now we have 60 votes in coun­cil – that makes it a hung coun­cil.

“There were a number of items that we couldn’t pass [on Thurs­day] be­cause the UDM col­lab­o­rated with the EFF, ANC and AIC.

“The ap­point­ment of an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for safety and se­cu­rity could not be done; there is a va­cancy there and we need some­one.

“We had to de­clare the city a dis- aster drought area – that was not done be­cause there is no ma­jor­ity and they [op­po­si­tion and UDM] walked out.

“There were also four items to reg­u­larise spend­ing in the last fi­nan­cial year. We couldn’t pass those; in fact, Bobani, the EFF and the ANC re­jected all of them. That will have a con­se­quence in terms of hav­ing an [au­dit] qual­i­fi­ca­tion for this fi­nan­cial year,” Trol­lip said.

The coali­tion also needs the back­ing of the op­po­si­tion if it wants to spend metro money on re­fur­bish­ing the route for the Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship.

With­out the sup­port of at least one op­po­si­tion councillor, it could lose the in­ter­na­tional spec­ta­cle set to take place in Septem­ber next year.

If the UDM and op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors choose to boy­cott fu­ture coun­cil meet­ings, it would place a number of cru­cial ser­vice de­liv­ery mat­ters on hold, such as the ap­proval of re­zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, land sales and ac­qui­si­tions, among other things.

On Thurs­day, they walked out of the coun­cil meet­ing, ef­fec­tively col­laps­ing the sit­ting – but not be­fore the DA, PA, ACDP and COPE rammed through a vote to re­move Bobani.

The coali­tion pushed it through as the op­po­si­tion and UDM were still shuf­fling out of the coun­cil cham­ber, gar­ner­ing 60 votes, which was the ma­jor­ity of the number of coun­cil­lors in the cham­ber at the time.

The move was slammed by the ANC and EFF, which la­belled the DA as ar­ro­gant. The EFF’s na­tional bosses said the party would not vote with the DA in the Bay un­til they “rad­i­cally change their at­ti­tude to­wards other coali­tion part­ners be­long­ing to smaller par­ties”.

EFF na­tional spokesman Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi said: “Although the EFF is not in any coali­tion or co­op­er­a­tion with the DA, we view their be­hav­iour as a threat to coali­tion pol­i­tics that can re­move the cor­rupt ANC out of power

“The ap­point­ment of an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for safety and se­cu­rity could not be done; there is a va­cancy and we need some­one”

even in the fu­ture.

“Above all, we warn them that their be­hav­iour in Nel­son Man­dela [Bay] will af­fect all other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where they rely on op­po­si­tion par­ties to gov­ern – in par­tic­u­lar Tsh­wane and Johannesburg,” Nd­lozi said.

Trol­lip re­sponded it was the EFF’s po­lit­i­cal choice if it did not want to vote with the coali­tion.

“It’s fine; it’s their po­lit­i­cal choice but they also of­fered their votes for change.

“If they don’t vote with the coali­tion on prin­ci­ple is­sues and on is­sues that are of in­ter­est to the cit­i­zens of this city, then they would be align­ing them­selves with the ANC and that is not change – that is their choice,” Trol­lip said.

“[UDM Pres­i­dent Bantu] Holomisa and the UDM also have to de­cide if they want to stay in this coali­tion or go out.

“But as far as we are con­cerned, we don’t have a coali­tion be­cause Bobani and [UDM councillor Thoko] Tshangela have voted against us since Jan­uary al­most on ev­ery sin­gle op­por­tu­nity where we had to vote.”

On Thurs­day, Holomisa threat­ened to pull out of the coali­tion if Bobani is not re­in­stated by Mon­day.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane re­sponded that they would not ac­cede to the de­mand and that they would sup­port any other UDM nom­i­nee to serve on the may­oral com­mit­tee.

The PA, which tabled the mo­tion to re­move Bobani on Thurs­day, has, mean­while, made it clear that it still wants the deputy mayor po­si­tion.

In a state­ment, PA na­tional boss Gay­ton McKen­zie said: “We want to make it clear that we didn’t re­move the deputy mayor from his po­si­tion in or­der for any other party to oc­cupy it. The PA should and shall oc­cupy that po­si­tion.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: EUGENE COETZEE

COALI­TION CLASH: Mayor Athol Trol­lip and axed deputy Mongameli Bobani

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