UDM leader Bantu Holomisa. Picture: MARK ANDREWS/DAILY DISPATCH
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa. Picture: MARK ANDREWS/DAILY DISPATCH

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says a letter containing an ultimatum to his party by the DA-led coalition to explain whether the UDM still wants to be a part of it was "destined for the dustbin".

Holomisa said the UDM would not contest the decision to officially remove the party from the coalition, if that decision were to be taken at a meeting on Thursday.

The leaders of the DA, FF Plus, ACDP and COPE had written to Holomisa at the weekend asking him to respond at Thursday’s meeting.

The coalition was formed after the ANC took a knock at the ballot box in 2016, and multiple municipalities were left hung after no party won a majority with which they could govern on their own.

The four metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Ekurhuleni were the most coveted of the hung municipalities. The DA installed its mayors via a coalition in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, while the ANC formed a coalition to keep its mayoral seat in Ekurhuleni.

Last week, however, the DA’s Athol Trollip was ousted as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor through a motion of no confidence supported by the ANC, EFF, UDM, African Independent Congress (AIC), and the United Front, and because a DA councillor abstained from the vote. Speaker Jonathan Lawack was also removed in that way.

Following Trollip’s removal, the DA met COPE, FF Plus and the ACDP on Friday, which led to a letter on the status of the UDM within the coalition being send to Holomisa.

The leaders asked him for "reasons for the UDM’s perceived persistent contravention of both the spirit and the letter of the co-governance agreement as outlined above", as well as to respond in writing by Wednesday, or in person on Thursday at a meeting with the coalition partners.

Holomisa told Business Day that he had not received the letter by Tuesday. He said on Monday that if the parties wanted to "chase us out, that’s fine".

He said Bobani would not be removed from the mayoral position in Nelson Mandela Bay to make space for Trollip to take up the post again, and that Bobani was there in the first place after the DA was "betrayed by their own councillor".

Holomisa said the DA owed both the UDM and Bobani an apology for how they had been treated, and that the DA should swallow its pride.

Meanwhile, the DA and its coalition partners in Nelson Mandela Bay filed papers in the Port Elizabeth high court on Friday in an urgent court bid to have the decision in the council meeting last week reviewed and set aside. The respondents in the matter — the Eastern Cape MEC of co-operative governance, Fikile Xasa‚ city manager Johann Mettler‚ Bobani‚ the ANC‚ EFF‚ AIC‚ and United Front — had all been given until Tuesday to indicate if they planned to oppose the case.

Mettler had indicated that he and the municipality would abide by the court’s decision, and distanced himself from an unsigned affidavit in his name in the founding papers, saying he did not align himself with "any political party".