THE power struggles in Nelson Mandela Bay burst to the fore yesterday when mayor Zanoxolo Wayile, speaker Maria Hermans and chief whip Feziwe Sibeko were locked inside the ANC regional headquarters by regional leaders and ordered to resign with immediate effect.
The order was also directed at Wayile’s deputy, Nancy Sihlwayi, who was not at the meeting as she is on a visit to Sweden’s Göteborg municipality.
During the fortnightly political management meeting with ANC national disciplinary committee head Derek Hanekom at Florence Matomela House, there was chaos as members of the ANC regional executive committee chained and padlocked the doors, restricting access in and out of the building.
While some residents who went there about ANC-related issues were turned away and told to come back today, branch members aligned to regional chairman Nceba Faku were let in.
ANC members sang and chanted outside the boardroom where the meeting took place, forcing it to be moved to the City Hall as they got rowdier.
Faku-aligned members sang from the third floor boardroom, while another group aligned to Wayile formed outside after their branches were alerted to the standoff.
While talks of a hostage situation were dismissed as an exaggeration, ward councillors and branch members aligned to Wayile had to use a bolt cutter to cut open the regional office’s security gate to let Wayile walk free yesterday afternoon.
This after police – who had been alerted to a hostage situation – were booted out of the offices after they cut through the chains and padlocks to gain entry to the third floor boardroom.
An REC member, who was at the meeting but did not want to be named, said they had wanted Hanekom to enforce "a resolution [passed] at the regional conference [in St Albans in April] for the mayor, deputy mayor, speaker and chief whip to step down”.
"The ANC regional conference is the highest decision-making body in the region and a decision was taken for them to go,” he said. "We’ve been observing over the past three months since the conference and have decided to act on that today.
"Wayile was meant to walk out of the building as the former mayor.”
Motherwell ward 55 resident and Wayile supporter Mbulelo Taaibos said he had received a text message notifying him of the situation unfolding at regional headquarters.
"We were told that Faku and [ANC councillor Thembinkosi] Mafana ordered Wayile to resign and said he could not leave until he had resigned,” he said.
"We then rushed there from a meeting we were having in Motherwell to find this mess.”
The mayor’s spokesman, Luncedo Njezula, declined to comment on "speculation” that the mayor had been forced to resign, saying no such decision was communicated to the mayor’s office.