The relationship between governing leaders of Nelson Mandela Bay's coalition has reached a boiling point, with the Democratic Alliance and the United Democratic Movement refusing to budge on the decision to remove the municipal deputy mayor.
Both DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his UDM colleague Bantu Holomisa have sent stern letters to each other over the axing of metro's deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani.
"The letter we sent to the DA says by Monday, if Bobani is not reinstated, we are out of the coalition agreement in Nelson Mandela Bay. If by Monday by 4pm be don't get any positive response, it is in black and white, we are out," Holomisa told the Huff Post SA on Friday.
"It doesn't matter if he (Maimane) doesn't want to waver...We don't operate on the same level. I'm not going to waste my time reading a love letter from Maimane."
Holomisa was referring to a letter from the DA in response to the UDM's ultimatum, where Maimane explains the party's decision to oust Bobani. Maimane made clear in his response that the DA will not tolerate Bobani's alleged unethical conduct.
Bobani was sacked after a controversial vote of no confidence in the city council on Thursday. This led his party on a rampage with Holomisa issuing an ultimatum that if Bobani is not reinstated by August 28, the party would pull out of the coalition.
Maimane would not bow.
"I will not let it happen on my watch," he said in his response letter.
In his letter, Maimane said Bobani was voted out – a motion which was supported by the coalition's other two members, the Congress Of The People and the African Christian Democratic Party – because he openly voted with the African National Congress in council meetings.
Maimane also accused Bobani of undermining the recent State of the City report by holding his own, separate event.
The opposition leader claimed that two separate forensic reports by independent auditing firms found serious prima-facie evidence of maladministration, fraud, and tender irregularities involving departments directly under Bobani.
Maimane said the UDM was welcome to replace Bobani with another member of its choice.
"Your ultimatum seeks to hold our co-government agreement to ransom. It requests of us to maintain the status quo, despite the evidence of corruption and despite Bobani flagrantly voting against the coalition," Maimane said.
"If you decide to go through with your ultimatum and collapse the government, then it will fall to you to explain to the voters of Nelson Mandela Bay...why you decided to return the ANC to government and protect the conduct of one man over the interests of the country."
Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth is regarded as a highly contested municipality. It was previously an ANC stronghold, however Maimane claimed victory in the metro in 2016 and dived into a coalition with the UDM and others.