DA Claims Court Victory But Battle For City of Tshwane Far From Over

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LUCAS LEDWABA

THE BATTLE for the soul of the City of Tshwane between the DA and the ANC is not over yet despite a North Gauteng High Court ruling on Wednesday.

The court ruled that a judgment declaring the dissolution of the Tshwane Council illegal be implemented immediately.

This ruling means that council sittings will resume as normal after the ANC and EFF councillors in the city refused to attend following MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile’s decision to dissolve the municipality in March.

Maile forwarded a team of administrators to run the city’s affairs but the DA challenged this in court.

The court ruled against Maile’s decision to dissolve the council and ordered that council sittings resume.

However, Maile has appealed the ruling and judgment is pending.

Wednesday’s ruling means that council meetings will resume pending the outcome of the appeal by Maile.

It is expected that the DA will push for the urgent election of a new mayor and appointment of an acting city manager.

The party’s move to do so was thwarted at the 11th hour last month after Maile filed papers in the Constitutional Court – meaning the city couldn’t hold any council meetings pending the outcome of the appeal.

The DA has however won this round and is expected to make announcements regarding the holding of a council meeting where it’s expected to elect its candidate Randall Williams as mayor.

Williams said this week’s judgment is a further indictment of the ANC provincial government and Premier David Makhura and Maile, who he accused of having systematically undermined governance in the city.

Williams said the high court has further emphasized the unlawfulness of the province’s decision to place the city under administration and that the judgment sets a vital precedent for the many councils for which leadership is won against the ANC by minority governments in next year’s elections.

The DA, Williams and two others were seeking an order that pending the outcome of applications leaves to appeal of appeals by Maile and four other respondents, that certain aspects of the April ruling which include that council resume its business, remain in operation and be given effect.

The submission centred on the legality of the administrator remaining in charge of the city following a ruling that concluded Maile and his exco had erred in dissolving the council, and whether the judgment was invalid in its entirety pending the outcome of the appeal.

It also raised the question of whether if elections were held in Tshwane pending the outcome of the appeal, whether such elections would then still be considered legal at the outcome of the Constitutional Court ruling on the appeals.

Meanwhile both parties have been involved in an ugly public spat over the matter, accusing each other of failing to manage the city properly.

Although the DA has won this round and may move swiftly to appoint a mayor and city manager, the matter may still take another turn depending on what the Constitutional Court decides.

Maile’s challenge centres on the constitutionality of the provincial executive’s powers to effect section 139 interventions in municipal councils.

The saga goes back to March 04 when the provincial executive council announced a decision to dissolve the Tshwane Municipal Council in accordance with Section 139(1)(c).

Maile has said the decision was supported by Minister of Co-operative Governance Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the National Council of Provinces who are cited as respondents in the matter.

He has also highlighted “another court, more specifically the Constitutional Court as the final arbiter will overturn the decision of the High Court, based on the strong merits of our decision. More importantly, the judgment raises important constitutional and legal issues and if these remain unchallenged and unclear as a result of that, it will set a bad precedent.”

(Compiled by Inside Metros staff)

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