The City of Tshwane. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The City of Tshwane. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has ruled that the decision to set aside the dissolution of the council of the City of Tshwane, be immediately implemented, paving the way for the DA to elect a new mayor after almost eight months with no leadership.

As the city still has a council it will have to elect a new mayor while it awaits the judgment by the Constitutional Court on the decision to place the city under administration and dissolve the council earlier this year after it became dysfunctional.  

The ANC and EFF councillors who left the council meetings, which resulted in meetings collapsing leaving it unable to do its job, will have to stay in attendance as required in the order by the high court. 

The DA, which led the governing coalition in Tshwane until the council was unable to elect a new mayor after the former incumbent Stevens Mokgalapa resigned in the wake of a sex scandal, successfully applied to the high court earlier this year to review and set aside the decision by the provincial government to have the council dissolved. 

The provincial government then appealed directly to the Constitutional Court, which resulted in the DA obtaining an order to execute the high court judgment pending the outcome of the judgment by the apex court. Judgment has been reserved in the Constitutional Court matter. 

The execution order was granted, which resulted in the provincial government applying for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. 

In a majority judgment by the court delivered on Tuesday, the court dismissed the application for leave to appeal the high court order. 

The court held that the high court in Pretoria rightly held that the circumstances of the case were exceptional, given that they involved the infringement of peremptory provisions of the constitution, and that the DA had made out a proper case that the running of the City of Tshwane by an unelected administrator is the antithesis of democratic and accountable government for local communities.

“The court’s order properly ensures that the councillors, duly elected by the citizens of Tshwane in 2016, are allowed to resume their rightful constitutional role, powers and responsibilities,” the court held. 

It added that the order by the high court gave effect to the rights of voters and preserves the autonomy of local government. “It cannot be faulted. In the result, the appeal is dismissed with costs, including costs of two counsel,” the court held. 

DA Gauteng provincial chair Mike Moriarty said the DA welcomes the long-awaited judgment, which will reinstate the DA in the City of Tshwane and oust the “unlawful ANC administrators”.

He said it was obvious from the court judgment that the ANC’s action to put City of Tshwane under administration eight months ago was a politically motivated power grab on the part of Gauteng co-operative governance MEC Lebogang Maile. 

“There was no justification in removing the elected DA councillors from their posts,” Moriarty said, adding that the DA would ensure that Maile is personally held to account for all legal costs.

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