The planned installation of Danny Jordaan as Nelson Mandela Bay metro mayor will not be smooth sailing, as some ANC councillors in the municipality are planning to sabotage his election in protest at their national leadership’s “imposition” of him.
City Press has learnt from independent sources in the regional ANC – including three councillors and three leaders with close knowledge of moves to “block” the Safa president from becoming mayor – that the plan will be set in motion at this week’s special council meeting where he is meant to be named mayor.
The plan of the disgruntled group involves depriving the ANC, which has a slim majority of five councillors, of the numbers needed to elect Jordaan on voting day, and to encourage the DA to field a candidate. But regional and national ANC leaders have poured cold water on these claims, saying party councillors were consulted about Jordaan’s move. The ANC made it clear that it would not even entertain deputations from unhappy factions.
The party also views the Nelson Mandela Bay metro as a national project and is expected to put its full weight behind Jordaan to ensure he is allowed space to implement his objectives.
He is expected to cleanse the metro of its corrupt image by implementing changes and removing people, if necessary. He is expected to be assisted by a team from the national department of cooperative governance to immediately sort out budgets, tenders and delivery projects.
ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa dismissed plans to sabotage Jordaan’s election. “There are no ANC councillors who are going to sabotage that meeting. All our councillors will attend and vote for Danny. We are not afraid of anything. We expect things next week to go as smoothly as they did when Danny was sworn in [as councillor].”
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said there were no disgruntled ANC councillors and they all supported Jordaan as the new mayor. “There is absolutely no such thing. It’s just a game of information peddlers who are spreading baseless rumours. There was a caucus of the ANC, which was addressed by comrade Jordaan, and all councillors of the ANC are happy with the intervention; they are in a good mood; ready to get things done.”
Jordaan was sworn in as a proportional representative councillor on Friday after being introduced to the ANC caucus on Thursday. A special council meeting scheduled for Friday morning, where Jordaan would have likely been sworn in and voted for as mayor, was cancelled at the eleventh hour. Only the swearing-in of a councillor went ahead. No official reason was given for the cancellation.
Dissenters in the council and in ANC regional structures now plan to derail the sitting by deliberately shrinking the ANC’s majority.
The ANC has 63 councillors in the 120-member chamber, while opposition parties together have 57. It would therefore need just five dissenting ANC members to halt Jordaan’s election.
Regional sources said up to 18 ANC councillors were disgruntled at the decision by the party leadership “to impose” Jordaan. They are said to reflect the sentiment of structures in the divided region who were all pushing for people in their own factions to take office.
ANC councillors are also angry at national government’s decision to bypass the local leadership in the R4.6 billion Nelson Mandela Bay housing project announced by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu last month.
The project will be directly managed by national government, thus depriving local councillors of the power to be in charge of lucrative business.
The councillors’ “fight-back strategy” will involve cancelling out the ANC majority by having councillors submit sick notes, make apologies or simply go AWOL.
A councillor said: “We only need a minimum of five ward councillors from the ANC. Then the meeting will not sit, because the ANC would not want to have a situation where Jordaan is embarrassed by opposition parties appointing their own mayor.”
The dissidents said if this plan succeeded in collapsing Thursday’s meeting, the council would be compelled to postpone the vote.
“When they convene another council meeting, we will alternate another group of councillors to stay away,” said a regional insider.
Another councillor said if the national leadership stepped in and disciplined suspected dissidents, it would result in further delays.
An ANC councillor with knowledge of the “fight-back plan” said funding was now being mobilised to support those councillors who could be booted out. The councillor said they were banking on the fact that if the ANC fired them, it would force by-elections and cause more delays.
City Press also understands that the reason for the cancellation of last week’s election and swearing-in of the mayor was that the numbers did not favour the ANC, showing just how precarious the party’s majority is. The ANC numbers were dented by the death of veteran councillor Mike Tofile a few weeks ago, the absence of another councillor who is overseas on council business and the hospitalisation of two others.
DA councillor Retief Odendaal said internal dissension in the ANC had caused the cancellation of Friday’s meeting.
“There are a number of ANC councillors who said they would not vote for Mr Jordaan. In actual fact, we [the DA] were approached by other opposition parties to make some of our members available to stand as mayor, with confirmation from several ANC councillors that our candidate would be elected,” said Odendaal.
He did not want to name the ANC councillors, saying he did not want to “expose some of my colleagues” in the ANC.
Former mayor Zanoxolo Wayile, who was booted out by the ANC national office in 2013 amid faction fighting in the region, said Jordaan would find it tough at the metro, as there was a great deal of “political suffocation” in the position.
After his axing, Wayile was exiled to the back benches of Parliament and is now an organiser for the fledgling United Front party.
“Even if you have somebody who is passionate as a mayor, there is a lot of suffocation in that particular space. You are told who to [appoint] and not to appoint. You are told not to proceed with forensic investigations,” he said.
Addressing a media briefing on Friday after his swearing-in ceremony, Jordaan said he was nobody’s puppet.
“I have never been a puppet in my life and am not going to start being a puppet at this old age of mine. I have always done things that I believe in,” said Jordaan.