Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has rejected United Democratic Movement (UDM) president Bantu Holomisa’s ultimatum to quit the Nelson Mandela Bay metro coalition if ousted deputy mayor, Mongameli Bobani, is not reinstated by Monday.
After months of simmering political tensions, UDM member Bobani was voted out as the deputy mayor on Thursday allegedly for making the coalition “unstable”. The motion to have Bobani ousted from his position had been brought by Patriotic Alliance Councillor Marlon Daniels.
Councillors from the opposition African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters rejected the motion before walking out the chamber. However, the DA, African Christian Democratic Party and Congress of the People all supported the motion and together they amassed 60 votes – enough to out the beleaguered deputy mayor.
Responding to Holomisa’s ultimatum late on Thursday, DA leader Maimane’s wrote a letter to coalition partners, including the UDM, seeking clarity on the dispute that could collapse the coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“Your ultimatum seeks to hold our co-government agreement to ransom,” Maimane said of the UDM move.
“It requests of us to maintain the status-quo, despite the evidence of corruption, and despite Councillor Bobani flagrantly voting against the coalition. This is unworkable and illegal in our view. It would make us no different to the ANC government we have replaced. ”
Maimane said that the ousted deputy mayor failed to adhere to the coalition agreement.
He said two forensic reports conducted by a third party auditing firms found prima facie evidence of maladministration, tender irregularities and fraud involving departments directly under the “political and operational authority” of Bobani.
Amid the rumbling Nelson Mandela Bay metro executive mayor, Athol Trollip, sacked Bobani as the head of the Public Health Directorate. He as eventually removed as deputy mayor by majority vote on Thursday.
Maimane said Bobani could not be returned to his position as deputy mayor and proposed that the UDM nominate another Councillor to serve on the Mayoral Committee. He said the DA would support any other UDM nominee.
Maimane said the removal of Bobani was not the removal of the UDM. “It is merely the removal of one Councillor whose values clearly do not align with those of our coalition.”
“If you [Holomisa] decide to go through with your ultimatum and collapse the government, then it will fall on you to to explain to the voters of Nelson Mandela Bay and the people of South Africa, who have taken such strength and hope from our coalition, why you decided to return the ANC to government and protect the conduct of one man over the interests of the country.”
The DA leader said the UDM failed to act against Bobani for his wrong doing and instead offered him “special protection”.
“The UDM has bemoaned the special protection which Mr [President Jacob] Zuma seems to enjoy from his party, yet the UDM seems to offer the same special protection to Councillor Bobani. It would seem to any observer that Bobani’s position in the UDM is similar to that of Mr Zuma in the ANC,” said Maimane.
Holomisa has accused the DA of “a dirty tricks” campaign against Bobani in order to “irregularly” remove him from the deputy mayor position.