The battle to remove Athol Trollip as mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro municipality is far from over.
Even after a motion of no confidence in the mayor was postponed indefinitely, the EFF has not backed down, saying it will explore further options – including approaching the courts – to force another special sitting of the city's council to debate and vote on the motion.
The first attempt to hold an orderly meeting for the vote failed at the end of March, when members of the EFF – who brought the motion in the first place – and the United Democratic Movement continued to disrupt the proceedings, forcing municipal speaker Jonathan Lawack to postpone the debate.
On Tuesday, a second special sitting was again brought to a halt by disruptions from ANC and EFF members. This time, Lawack – who is a DA member – postponed the matter indefinitely, saying the parties must now petition for the motion to be tabled again.
For this to happen, the EFF must obtain a majority of 61 signatures from council members to lobby Lawack to reschedule the motion.
"They are saying it's adjourned permanently," said EFF Eastern Cape provincial convener Yazini Tetyana. "They are saying we must go and collect 61 signatures for a new sitting. We will explore our options. We will look at the option of going to court and we are not worried about getting the 61 signatures either. The process of removing someone takes a long time. We will still convince people to vote with us."
In the 2016 local government elections, the DA acquired 57 seats to the ANC's 50. The other seats went to the EFF (6), the United Democratic Movement (2), African Christian Democratic Party (1), Congress of the People (1), African Independent Congress (1), Patriotic Alliance (1) and the United Front of the Eastern Cape (1).
Because no party held a majority, the EFF, UDM and Cope threw their weight behind the DA to take the metro from the ANC. The EFF and the UDM together have the numbers to tip the balance of forces between the DA and the ANC, but the ANC, EFF and UDM can't achieve 61-seat majority control of the council without help from at least three of the single-seat parties.
The PA and AIC threw a spanner in the works when they announced at the eleventh hour that they would vote with Trollip. With their support, and additional backing from the ACDP and Cope bolstering the DA, it will become difficult for the EFF to acquire 61 signatures.
The DA says the constant disruptions form part of a political strategy to save face in the likelihood of a loss by the EFF.
In a statement, DA Eastern Cape provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said the ANC and EFF exposed themselves to be "nothing more than disruptive forces in the council of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro".
"The ANC and EFF collapsed today's meeting because they knew they did not have enough votes, and this highlights the fact that these opposition parties have nothing else to do but break down the council and good governance in the metro," Bhanga added.
The ANC claims that the motion still stands and no petition is needed.
"The DA decided to march out in the middle of the meeting before the start of the official agenda. There were no disruptions. Council meetings are guided by rules, and the speaker collapsed the meeting deliberately. If a point of order is raised, that member has the right to be heard," said ANC provincial leader Andile Lungisa.
"We are dealing with delinquents who are using apartheid tactics because they don't want to lose. They were exposed today. The matter is still on the table."