Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane says the Economic Freedom Fighters are determined to give Nelson Mandela Bay back to the African National Congress, so that they can continue to loot the city's coffers and steal from the poor.
Maimane was speaking at the Babs Madlakane Hall in KwaNobuhle, highlighting the DA's successes under Mayor Athol Trollip, ahead of the EFF's motion of no confidence.
In an emotional address to a packed hall, Maimane said the EFF's actions were tantamount to witchcraft.
"What is happening here in Nelson Mandela Bay can only be compared to witchcraft.
How can you undermine the will of the people and say, via the backdoor, you are going to return the tsotsis into the council," he said.
Maimane said the people had made it clear during the 2016 local government elections that they did not want the ANC in power.
"The people of NMB want accountability from their government. They want service delivery, they want jobs and they want to feel safe in their communities. And they will not get this from the ANC."For many years this great city of Nelson Mandela Bay was under attack. Not an attack from an outside force, but an attack from its very own government," he said.
Maimane said billions of rands, meant for the poorest people of the city, had ended up in the pockets of "cadres and their crooked cronies".
"I'm going to tell you something, if people are used to stealing, they don't care who they steal from, as long as they are benefitting. Tsotsis will always stand together. That's why they stole before, and now they want to steal again," he said.
EFF flip-flopping on issues, lack integrity
Maimane berated the EFF for their inconsistent political stance.
Maimane pointed out that, after the local government elections, Malema had labelled the EFF the ANC's biggest enemy, and had said they would not get one vote from his party.
"Julius Malema made it very clear back then that his mission was to help save Nelson Mandela Bay from the ANC," he said.
"But now, barely 19 months later, Julius Malema has made another of his trademark flip-flops. He has forgotten everything he said about the ANC here in Nelson Mandela Bay, and he has made a deal with them to put them back into power," he said.
Maimane said he could understand if the EFF opted to vote against the DA if they had failed to deliver, but said this was not the case.
Trollip targeted because he's white
Maimane said Trollip was being targeted because of the colour of his skin.
"In Malema's own words, he is doing this to get rid of Mayor Athol Trollip, simply because he is white. He doesn't even try to hide his racism any longer," he said.
He said the DA would defend Trollip, just as it would defend the mayors of its other metros, Herman Mashaba and Solly Msimanga.
"Athol stands for the DA and stands for the future of South Africa and we must stand strong."He was white before they elected him. He was white when they elected him and he will be white after they elected him, because we did not choose him because he is white, we chose him because he stands for freedom, for fairness and for opportunity."
Lungisa court case a show of ANC's character
Maimane also referred to the current court case against ANC provincial heavyweight, Andile Lungisa, who is facing a charge of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, after allegedly smashing a water jug over Mayoral Committee Member Rano Kayser's head.
"Now I see there is a court case where Andile Lungisa is lying in court, saying things like: 'no no no, I didn't mean to injure that one' - hey the tsotsis are in the same WhatsApp group," he said to loud applause and laughter from the hall.
"That's who the ANC and the EFF want to let back in here," he said.Maimane said the DA would continue to lobby to defeat the vote of no confidence against Trollip, and called on those present to show their support outside of council on March 29.
"We will continue to say: Hands off Mayor Trollip! Let him serve the people!"And then, in next year's election, we will put this matter beyond all doubt when we kick both the ANC and the EFF out of Nelson Mandela Bay for good," he said.