Gauteng government to approach top court on Tshwane judgment
High court judgment curtails provincial government’s power to intervene in municipal affairs, says DA
The Gauteng provincial government will approach the Constitutional Court in a bid to appeal a judgment which set aside the decision to dissolve the Tshwane municipal council.
In March, the provincial government took the decision to dissolve the council running the capital city, and appointed an administrator to run the metro until fresh elections took place.
The high court in Pretoria, however, reviewed this on application by the DA, who led a coalition government in the province, and set aside the decision it described as unlawful.
At the time when the city was placed under administration it had no mayor, no mayoral committee and no municipal manager after the council meeting collapsed due to a walkout by ANC and EFF councillors.
In its judgment the high court argued that there were less restrictive means with which the provincial government could intervene in the city.
Lebogang Maile, Gauteng co-operative governance MEC, announced that the provincial government would appeal the ruling to the apex court, as the high court judgment “will curtail the powers of any provincial [executive committee]” to invoke any of the provisions of section 139 of the constitution which allows it to intervene in a municipality.
A provincial government can intervene in a municipality in various ways, the most severe option of which was taken in Tshwane.
Maile said the high court’s judgment had created more confusion on “the dynamic interplay between provincial and local government and the checks and balances and constitutional responsibilities therein” and that the apex court should clarify it “once and for all”.
He said the provincial government believed the reasons the executive committee had made the decision were “solid”.
Maile said it was important that the court give a proper interpretation of section 139 of the constitution, as well as on how it was applied.
“This matter does not only raise important constitutional issues but is of great public interest,” Maile said.
He said the administrator and the team of experts appointed to run the city will continue doing so until the appeal process was concluded.
In a statement released on Thursday the DA's mayoral candidate in Tshwane, Randall Williams, condemned the move.
He said it was a “complete waste” of taxpayers’ money and was intended to delay the process of bringing stability to the metro.
“The recent unanimous judgment by the court was clear, that the current team of administrators that were deployed by the ANC should vacate their respective offices within five days after the level five lockdown was lifted to allow all councillors to resume office by midnight on Friday, May 8 2020 when the judgment comes into effect,” Williams said.
He said the application for leave to appeal was baseless and had no substance, as it was “filled with emotions and political tactics to prolong their own political appointments’ time in office in Tshwane to loot the city coffers.”
The DA's legal team has been instructed to apply for an order to ensure that the order given by the high court takes effect pending the outcome of the appeal.