Nelson Mandela Bay council collapses as EFF, other opposition walk out
24 May 2018
A Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting has collapsed after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led the opposition in a walk-out over the fact that their motions of no confidence in Mayor Athol Trollip and others were not tabled.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition capitalised on the walk-out, passing several motions while opposition members were still leaving the room, before the council collapsed due to not meeting quorum.
The coalition only has 59 councillors, as councillor Peter Terreblache is currently in hospital due to appendicitis. They need a minimum of 61 councillors to make quorum.
The meeting, which started at 10:00, got off to a rocky start when EFF councillor Zilindile Vena challenged speaker Jonathan Lawack, for not acknowledging fellow EFF councillor Yoliswa Yako, the current municipal public accounts committee chair.
Following the exchange, the ANC asked for a half hour adjournment to caucus.
When they returned, Vena asked Lawack to explain why their motions of no confidence had been denied.
Lawack pointed out that he had received four motions on May 10, namely the motion of no confidence in Trollip, the motion of no confidence against himself, the motion of no confidence in chief whip Werner Senekal, as well as the motion to rescind the decision to remove the position of deputy mayor, and appoint a new deputy mayor.
Lawack said the rules clearly stated that all motions had to be tabled 10 business days before the next council meeting. He said that, as it said the day before, it meant the motions had to be 10 business days from May 23, and not May 24.
Lawack said for this reason, the motions were submitted late, as they had to be in by May 9, and for this reason he had declined them.
Vena then thanked Lawack, and he started quoting the rules, which said council agendas were supposed to be made available five business days before.
Lawack drowned Vena out, speaking over him and refusing to listen to his point, saying it was not in relation to the matter at hand.
When Vena continued to object, his microphone was switched off. This did not deter Vena, who raised his voice and continued to object, calling for the rules of council to be applied consistently.
After Lawack gave Vena his second warning, he handed the floor over to Trollip, who then began tabling his report, but was drowned out by the opposition. Vena again objected, as fellow EFF councillors showed that they wanted their motions to be heard.
When Lawack ignored them, the EFF walked out.
The ANC and other smaller opposition parties then joined suit and started leaving while the DA councillors hurriedly voted on agenda items.
It is still unclear what items had been passed, as the speaker could not be heard over the singing of the opposition members, but it is believed items 1-9 on the agenda were passed before the last opposition members left the room.
With all the opposition members out of council, the coalition failed to meet quorum and no further items could be passed. Following two mandated postponements to see if quorum could be reached, Lawack postponed the meeting, to reconvene on May 30.