A view of the City of Tshwane from Freedom Park. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
A view of the City of Tshwane from Freedom Park. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The DA wants the high court to review and set aside the decision by the Gauteng provincial government to dissolve the Tshwane council following months of political turmoil.

In court papers filed in Pretoria on Friday, the DA also asked the court to order that councillors from the EFF and the ANC “comply with their statutory obligations to attend and remain in attendance at meetings of the council”. 

The metro was placed under administration last week after the council had effectively become dysfunctional. Council meetings have collapsed since November last year, and the metro currently has no mayor, no mayoral council and no city manager.

The dissolution of the council is set to take effect next week, after which fresh elections would have to be held within 90 days. This would come about a year before the next local government elections to be held in 2021.  

The DA has placed the blame for the collapsing of council squarely at the feet of the ANC and the EFF, while the two opposition parties have blamed the DA-led coalition for the metro’s dysfunction.

The EFF and the ANC have either walked out of council meetings, which led to the meetings collapsing, or have simply not arrived for urgent meetings that the DA-led minority coalition attempted to hold to elect a mayor and extend the contract of the former acting city manager.

The DA’s Gauteng chair Mike Moriarty said in a statement on Friday that the party has approached the court to “halt the unlawful action” by opposition parties to “deactivate” the DA-led municipality over the past few months.

Moriarty said the party believes its case is strong in law and on the facts.

“Tshwane is not dysfunctional. The issue at hand is that for months the ANC and EFF have continually collapsed council meetings with their disruptive behaviour and walkouts. Nevertheless, services continue to be delivered, despite the council not being unable to form a quorum due to the walkouts,” Moriarty said.

He said there were other “truly dysfunctional” councils in Gauteng, such as Emfuleni and Merafong municipalities, but that the only difference is that these municipalities are governed by the ANC, not a DA-led coalition.

“The DA’s court action is about defending the rights of one sphere of government that is a local council, from being taken out by an ANC provincial government. The truth is that after 2021 there will be dozens more councils around the country where the ANC has lost to minority governments,” Moriarty said.

He added that the DA would argue there are no exceptional circumstances for intervening in the City of Tshwane, and that the process followed by the Gauteng provincial government was an abuse of processes.