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 is to initiate a legal process to ensure it can take over the Tshwane metropolitan council as soon as possible.

On Monday it will launch an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court for the immediate implementation of the decision by the court reinstating the DA and its coalition partners to a position of control of the council.

This is a bid to overturn the suspension of the court judgment pending the outcome of an appeal by the ANC-controlled provincial government and the EFF to the Constitutional Court to oppose the high court judgment handed down at the end of April. This judgment overturned the dissolution of the Tshwane council by the ANC-controlled provincial government and the installation of administrators to run the council.

The urgent application will be brought under a section of the Superior Courts Act so that the judgment to overturn the dissolution of the Tshwane council is effective immediately rather than awaiting the outcome of the appeal, which could take a long time. The court ruling overturning the dissolution of the council was suspended until five days after level 5 of the lockdown was lifted, but it could not be implemented because of the appeals. SA shifted to level 4 of the lockdown on May 1.

DA mayoral candidate Randall Williams said at a media briefing on Sunday it was urgent for the council to be reconvened as it was not clear how long the appeals would last. In the meantime, the administrators could take important decisions, such as adopting the 2020/2021 budget and the appointment of a city manager that would be binding on the council. The DA-led coalition needed to prevent this from happening.

Williams said he believed there were exceptional circumstances that justified an overruling of the suspension of the judgment pending the outcome of the appeal.

DA Gauteng provincial chair Mike Moriarty said because the administrators were continuing to operate, councillors could not return to office and a meeting to elect a new mayor could not be held.

The Tshwane metropolitan council was dissolved by the Gauteng provincial government in March after council meetings constantly collapsed. The municipality had no mayor, no mayoral committee and no municipal manager at the time it was dissolved.

The municipality was governed by a DA-led coalition after the 2016 local government elections until mayor Stevens Mokgalapa was voted out of office in a motion of no confidence. The council was unable to elect a new mayor and the ANC-led provincial government moved to dissolve it, citing this failure as one of the reasons for the dissolution.

The DA will also oppose the EFF and ANC’s appeal to the Constitutional Court and the EFF’s alternative application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which it will need in the event its application to the Constitutional Court is rejected.

Moriarty stressed that any municipality should operate without fear of undue intervention from a provincial government. This was important given that, in his view, the ANC was likely to lose control of dozens of municipalities to minority governments in the 2021 local government elections. But they will be in provinces where the ANC is still dominant at provincial government level.

“If we don’t stop them in Tshwane, then the precedent will be set. All these councils will be vulnerable and exposed to interference and a corruption of the system. The will of the people will be subverted,” Moriarty said.

Gauteng co-operative governance MEC Lebogang Maile justified the appeal to the Constitutional Court, saying 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 that allows it to intervene in a municipality.