THE DA wants Eastern Cape Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane to declare unlawful all decisions taken at a council meeting in which Nelson Mandela Bay councillors were intimidated to authorise R17-million for pay parity.
On Wednesday, about 150 Uitenhage and Despatch workers stormed the meeting and barred councillors from leaving until the backpay they were promised was paid into their accounts.
The DA said the meeting should be declared invalid as councillors were forced to make decisions against their will.
The party said some of its members were manhandled by the workers.
Both DA MPL Bobby Stevenson and the party’s Bay caucus leader, Leon de Villiers, wrote to Qoboshiyane yesterday urging him to intervene.
Stevenson said: “I have SMSed and written to [Qoboshiyane] . . . urging him to ensure that no decisions of yesterday’s meeting are implemented pending a legal opinion as to whether or not it was a valid meeting.
“The police owe the public an explanation as to whether or not they were given any instruction not to clear the chamber of workers.
“Otherwise they stand accused of allowing the elected public representatives of our city to be held hostage.”
Police spokesman Captain Johan Rheeder said: “We were on the scene and there were no incidents of violence. The workers were there and after two hours they left because they were happy.”
De Villiers said speaker of council Maria Hermans declared the meeting unsafe to continue, but the workers insisted it go ahead.
“There were illegal decisions taken at the meeting by the ANC, ACDP, COPE, UDM and PAC.”
Qoboshiyane confirmed he received a letter from Stevenson, but said it did not contain all the details about what happened at the meeting.
“Although it is without details, they urge my intervention. I don’t convene council meetings, so I will have to consult with the speaker, the mayor and chief whip to find out. Before the intervention, I will need the facts, ”Qoboshiyane said.
The Uitenhage and Despatch workers were promised by a task team put together by mayor Ben Fihla that they would be paid the back pay stemming from pay parity yesterday. However, by midday the money had still not been paid.
SA Municipal Workers’ Union regional chairman Xolani Tom said: “It was too late to have everything finalised by [Wednesday] afternoon. There is an indication that the money will be paid late [yesterday] or [today]”.
Pay parity refers to Uitenhage and Despatch workers being put on the same salary scale as their Port Elizabeth counterparts in similar positions.