Battle for Tshwane goes on as Gauteng government launches new appeal

Inside the Tshwane council - the subject of an ongoing legal battle over its dissolution. File image.
Inside the Tshwane council - the subject of an ongoing legal battle over its dissolution. File image.

The Gauteng government on Thursday launched an appeal to overturn the decision by the North Gauteng High Court to allow for the implementation of a court judgement that sets aside the dissolution of the City of Tshwane council.

On Wednesday, the court ruled in favour of the DA to implement a judgment of the same court, which sets aside the decision of the provincial government to dissolve the troubled Tshwane council.

Wednesday's high court judgment means that the city can sit and elect a new mayor -while the same judgment is being appealed in the Constitutional Court. The ConCourt matter is due to be heard later this year.

However, the Gauteng government’s appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) may brings about a new twist to the saga.

In April the court ruled that the dissolution of the Tshwane council by the provincial government was illegal.

On March 4, the provincial government invoked sections 139 of the constitution and dissolved the Tshwane council, installing in its place an administrator to run the city’s affairs. The dissolution came after a number of collapsed council meetings in the city due to ANC and EFF councillors walking out of meetings. This left the city with no mayor, mayoral committee or municipal manager.

After the dissolution decision, the DA approached the high court and on April 29 successfully had the court rule in its favour, declaring the decision to dissolve council illegal and set aside. The order, among other things, instructed that ANC and EFF councillors were not allowed to abandon their duties of attending council meetings unless a justifiable reason to do so was provided.

The court further suspended the order for up to five working days after the end of lockdown level 5, which was May 8. On the day the order was meant to kick in, the EFF applied for leave to appeal in the SCA, pending direct appeal to the ConCourt, which was eventually granted.

It was at this point that the DA went back to the high court seeking an order granting permission for the initial order to be effective until and if the ConCourt arrives at a different decision - an order they were granted this week.

This forced the Gauteng government to go back to the SCA to appeal this week’s decision of the high court.

DA mayoral candidate in the city Randall Williams said on Wednesday that the latest court ruling was a “major victory”.

“This is a further indictment of the ANC provincial government, its premier David Makhura and its MEC Lebogang Maile, who have systematically undermined governance in Tshwane,” said Williams.

“The high court has further emphasised the unlawfulness of the province’s decision to place Tshwane under administration.

“This 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.”