The African National Congress (ANC) have confirmed that they have redeployed former mayor and leader of the opposition for Nelson Mandela Bay, Danny Jordaan, to focus on winning the provincial elections in 2019.
Jordaan, who turned 65 on September 3, was appointed as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay by President Jacob Zuma in May last year, in an attempt to bring an end to political infighting in the region and secure the Northern Areas vote ahead of the local government elections.
He failed to do so, and the Democratic Alliance (DA) won a majority and secured the municipality through a coalition.
Jordaan, who has officially held the title of leader of the opposition for 41 days, tendered his resignation as a councillor on Sunday. He was not at the press conference when his redeployment and resignation were confirmed.
'Jordaan was on leave'
During his time as official leader of the opposition in Nelson Mandela Bay, Jordaan did not attend a single council meeting.
ANC council whip Litho Suka confirmed that Jordaan had excused himself from the council meetings as he was on sick leave. He said Jordaan had missed the first council meeting, where DA Mayor Athol Trollip was sworn in, due to confusion around access to the venue.
Jordaan was seen outside the venue before proceedings got underway, but failed to attend the council meeting. ANC members who did attend, walked out when Trollip was sworn in.
Suka said Jordaan had been on sick leave and had excused himself from attending the following two council sessions.
"We have made it very clear that Jordaan was on leave," he said.
ANC Regional Task Team co-ordinator Beza Ntshona said Jordaan had missed the recent ANC Regional Consultative Forum in September as he had been deployed by the party to engage with other municipalities.
"Comrade Danny has been actively participating in all organisational activities," he said.
"The conference was supposed to run over three days, and Comrade Danny was supposed to report back to us on Sunday, but we finished on Saturday," he said.
When asked about Jordaan’s multiple appearances on behalf of the South African Football Association over the past month and a half, while apparently on sick leave, the leadership simply smiled and said they were not able to comment.
Jordaan’s redeployment is not a demotion
Ntshona said the decision to redeploy Jordaan and release him from his council duties, to focus on the 2019 elections, had been taken after a consultative conference.
"[We] have emerged with greater unity of purpose and a single-minded determination to achieve a 70% victory in the forthcoming 2019 elections here in the Metro," said Ntshona.
Ntshona said Jordaan was expected to play a significant role in winning back the municipality, specifically in the Northern Areas.
"It is not a demotion," said Ntshona. "Jordaan remains a member of the ANC’s Regional Task Team and a full member of the ANC."
Ntshona confirmed that former deputy mayor and current deputy leader of the opposition, Bicks Ndoni, would be taking Jordaan’s place as party leader in the metro.
He confirmed that, with Jordaan’s resignation, the ANC would stick to its lists, which meant Afrika Maqolo would move up as a proportional representative councillor for the ANC.