Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani. Picture: THE HERALD
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani. Picture: THE HERALD

In a surprise move likely to lessen the chances of the DA-led coalition retaining power in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, the Patriotic Alliance has withdrawn its support of the coalition.

Patriotic Alliance councillor and national chair Marlon Daniels said he initially supported the DA-led coalition’s bid to challenge the removal of Athol Trollip as mayor and the election of Mongameli Bobani as mayor, but later had a change of heart.

"In our analysis, the motion of no confidence played out in an unfortunate manner, particularly for the DA, but we no longer feel there is a strong enough basis to challenge it, either in law or from a political perspective.

"The new coalition government under mayor Mongameli Bobani is now in power and needs to be given a chance to prove itself, " Daniels said.

The DA approached the High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday to have Trollip’s removal and Bobani’s election nullified. The outcome of the court case will have a bearing on who ultimately is in charge at City Hall.

The numbers in the council are, however, skewed towards the ANC, the EFF, the UDM, the African Independent Congress and the United Front with 60 seats out of 120.

The DA with COPE, the African Christian Democratic Party and the Patriotic Alliance have 58 seats after DA ward councillors Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins resigned from the party last week.

A by-election will have to be held within three months to replace them.

At the centre of the legal arguments on Thursday was the status of DA councillor Mbulelo Manyati.

Advocate Olav Harald Ronaasen, for the DA-led coalition, argued that city manager Johann Mettler had declared a vacancy in the council after the DA wrote to him saying Manyati’s membership had been terminated. After declaring Manyati’s vacancy, Mettler said there was no quorum and left the council chamber.

Advocate Dali Mpofu told the court the DA and its coalition partners had miscalculated when they left the council chambers and must suffer the consequences of their decision.

Mpofu said chief whip Bicks Ndoni had produced an affidavit that Mettler refused to chair the meeting.

"All that happened was a simple miscalculation of leaving a quorate meeting. They [the DA and partners] banked on Manyati leaving with them. They should have begged Manyati to come with them or take him out. This was a strategic move to collapse a meeting," Mpofu said.