The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein has dismissed with costs the Gauteng government’s appeal to suspend the implementation of the judgment which overturned its decision to dissolve the Tshwane Metro and place it under administration.
The High Court ruled in favour of the Democratic Alliance (DA) after it argued that the provincial government’s decision to dissolve the metro council was unlawful and should be set aside.
The provincial government which was aggrieved by the High Court ruling brought an urgent appeal in the SCA in a bid to overturn the implementation of the High Court judgment.
SCA justices were not unanimous in their judgment. Two justices dissented.
The Gauteng government contended that the Tshwane Metro Council was dysfunctional and hence the decision to place it under administration:
Following the High Court judgment, the Gauteng Executive Council and the EFF approached the Constitutional Court for direct access to seek leave to appeal.
This prompted the DA to approach the High Court for the implementation of its order which was handed down in April, pending the finalisation of the appeal processes in the Constitutional Court.
The SCA ruled that it would be against the law to allow an unelected administrator – accountable only to a different sphere of government that appointed him, to take charge of the municipal council far beyond a 90-day period which is prescribed in the constitution.
Accordingly, the choices of voters at the municipal level would then be disregarded, and the autonomy of local government, undermined.
In this case, the court noted that the provincial government is controlled by a party that did not win the Tshwane municipal elections in 2016, and where the dissolution decision itself has been declared unconstitutional and unlawful.
Reaction to the judgment
The DA says it is confident that councillors in the City of Tshwane Metro will be back at work by Friday.
DA Chairperson in Gauteng, Mike Moriarty says the speaker will be calling a whippery meeting today to discuss the way forward.
“The speaker, herself, has been physically engaged with the council staff in order to put the record together for the first council meeting. If all goes well there will be a meeting of the multi-party whippery at 5 o’clock and a previous agreement with the parties when the first judgment was handed down was that there will be a council meeting within 72 hours, that would take us roughly to Friday.”