Axed PE mayor Mongameli Bobani in court over 'illegal' dismissal

Former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani, together with former acting city boss Nobuntu Mpongwana, approached the Port Elizabeth high court on Tuesday to be reinstated.
Former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani, together with former acting city boss Nobuntu Mpongwana, approached the Port Elizabeth high court on Tuesday to be reinstated.

Axed mayor Mongameli Bobani believes the people of Nelson Mandela Bay will suffer without him at the helm.

And while he is aware that his urgent application for reinstatement may be interpreted as self-serving, he claims to be doing it for the citizens of Nelson Mandela Bay because he has their best interests at heart.

Bobani turned to the Port Elizabeth high court on Tuesday afternoon in a bid to have the decision to boot him out of office set aside.

As lawyers for the state, the municipality and various opposition parties went head-to-head in court, outside a crowd of UDM supporters banded together in a show of support for the former mayor.

The case was postponed to Friday for argument, reported HeraldLIVE.

Bobani argued in court papers that the decision to boot him out of office - taken at a council meeting on Thursday last week - was invalid and in contravention of Section 58 of the Municipal Structures Act, which requires that he be given 10 days notice of any intention to vote him out.

Bobani said this was not done and his removal was therefore illegal.

“As a consequence of my illegal removal from the office of the executive mayor, any action and decision taken after I was booted out of office on [December 5] is invalid and will negatively impact and affect the rights of Nelson Mandela Bay’s citizens,” he said.

DA councillors Morne Steyn and Athol Trollip, the municipality and acting municipal manager Buyelwa Mafaya — cited among the 17 respondents  — said they would oppose Bobanis bid for reinstatement.

Meanwhile, acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye and acting city boss Noxolo Nqwazi filed notices to abide by the courts decision.

The ANC, EFF, AIC, Cope and United Front did not oppose the matter.

Acting judge Lisa Ntsepe ordered that all opposing papers be filed by the end of the day on Wednesday and that the matter be argued on Friday.

Bobani is supported in his application by former acting city manager Nobuntu Mpongwana, who despite having tendered her resignation on the morning of December 5 now similarly wants her job back.

Mpongwana sat in the front row of the court gallery on Tuesday afternoon next to a smiling and cheerful Bobani, who shook hands and joked with members of the various opposition parties.

Bobani and Mpongwana submitted through their lawyers that agreements reached under them — such as a deal to host the British and Irish Lions rugby tour in July 2021 — were in jeopardy as a result of their removal.

“It was a very tricky deal to negotiate. This is but one example of many to be given to illustrate the gravity of the decisions taken by the respondents ... and the consequences of their unlawful conduct,” said Bobani.

Bobani said while he accepted that he could be removed from office in terms of section 58 of the Municipal Structures Act, prior notice needed to be given.

On Monday last week, a motion to remove him was included in Mpongwana’s report in the council agenda - but in a reprinted version of the report distributed two days later, the motion was nowhere to be found.

The matter was also discussed at a multiparty whippery meeting between whips of the various political parties, where it was decided to return to the agenda that was initially distributed.

However, Bobani remains adamant that notice of the motion of no confidence and the council’s intention to remove him was never given to him prior to the December 5 meeting.

He also wants the court to set aside all executive decisions taken by the municipality following his removal.

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