The Gauteng executive committee has lost its bid to appeal a judgment which rejected its decision to place the City of Tshwane under administration.
The DA will be reinstated to govern in the capital city, meaning that the administrators will no longer be required to run its affairs.
The judgment – by judges Dumisani Zondi, Christiaan Van der Merwe, Ashton Schippers, Elias Matojane and Glen Goosen – was released on Tuesday, where majority concurred that the appeal should be dismissed with costs.
The Supreme Court of Appeal judgement states that the steps taken by the Gauteng government to place the city under administration were an “infringement of peremptory provisions of the Constitution”.
“The running of the City of Tshwane by an unelected administrator is the very antithesis of democratic and accountable government for local communities, as enshrined in section 152(1)(a) of the Constitution.
“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 order gives effect to the rights of voters and preserves the autonomy of local government. It cannot be faulted,” the judgment reads.
The judgement said it was an anathema for administrators to be allowed to continue running the affairs of Tshwane beyond the 90-day prescribed by the Constitution.
“It accordingly held that the citizens of Tshwane have a fundamental constitutional right to be governed by those they had elected and the fact that they were denied this right constituted irreparable harm on their part. I cannot find fault with the high court’s reasoning,” according to the judgement.
The judges also explained that it was not right to make the assumption that with the reinstatement of the council, the problems which led to the council being unable to do what it is mandated to do, would be experienced again.
“It is correct that prior to the dissolution decision the Tshwane council was dysfunctional. The full court in the main judgment found that the situation existed as a direct consequence of the disruption of its meetings due to the walkout from council meetings by the ANC and EFF councillors, thus depriving the council of the necessary quorum,” the judgment said.
Following the handing down of the judgment, DA Gauteng provincial chairperson Mike Moriarty issued a statement where he insisted that Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Lebogang Maile be personally held accountable for all legal costs, wasting tax payers money and the “perilous state of chaos and mismanagement that the City of Tshwane”.
“For months residents of Tshwane have suffered, while Maile’s friends and ANC cadres collected exorbitant salaries,” Moriarty said.
The decision to place Tshwane under administration came about in March, with Premier David Makhura at the time saying it was guided by the Constitution and law of South Africa in terms of what needs to be done under the circumstances that the city was dysfunctional.”
The municipality had been riddled with political disarray leading to key positions being vacant. At the time of its dissolution, the city had no mayor and municipal manager due to several failed council sittings.
This was after the resignation of former mayor Stevens Mokgalapa took effect following a largely publicised sex scandal.
However, the DA did not take this lying down and decided to take the matter to court, where it won its bid to have the dissolution of council reversed.
The initial judgment handed over by Judge Dunston Mlambo said that the decision by the Gauteng executive council to dissolve the City of Tshwane municipality would be reviewed, declared invalid and set aside.
The judgment stated that both Makhura and Maile did not make an effort in addressing the constant walk-outs by ANC and EFF councillors which led to several failed council sittings.
The document explains the reasoning behind the failure to elect leadership to be a direct consequence of the continuous walk- outs by the councillors.
It has stated that all councillors are obliged to attend meeting unless there is a lawful reason.