ConCourt: Tshwane council dissolution was ‘unlawful’

2021-Oct-04   04:57

ConCourt: Tshwane council dissolution was ‘unlawful’
Constitutional court
Source: Gomolemo Mothomogolo/ Newsnote

- Gomolemo Mothomogolo

The Constitutional Court has ruled that placing City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality under administration was “unlawful”. The Apex Court said the Gauteng provincial government failed to address the walkouts by certain councillors during meetings.

The Constitutional Court handed down judgment on Monday.

The court found that the three jurisdictional facts had been established, but the dissolution was not warranted in the circumstances. This dissolution was found to be unlawful,” said Justice Steven Majiedt.

He added: “As a remedy the Constitutional Court set aside the high court’s mandamus and substituted it with an order compelling the MEC to appoint a committee to investigate the cause of the council deadlock”.

The Gauteng provincial government placed the metro under administration in March last year citing service delivery failures.

This comes after Tshwane council sitting collapsed numerous times when African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) councillors staged walkouts. 

The high court in Pretoria overturned the decision to place the city under administration. The court also compelled councillors to attend council meetings unless there is a valid reason or a doctor's certificate.

But the highest court in the land said compelling councillors to attend meetings “takes the mandamus too far” and the provincial government has the power to intervene when there is a walkout.

“The court held that the most direct cause of the municipal council's inability to conduct business in council meetings was continued disruption of municipal council meetings by ANC and EFF councillors staging walkout. This conduct was neither prioritized nor addressed by the MEC despite its centrality in the municipal council conundrum,” said the majority judgment.

It continued: “By staging walkout the councillors failed to serve the demands of their electorate and fulfil the constitutional and executive duties for which they were elected”.

The court has ordered Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance, Lebogang Maile, to investigate the walkouts. The court said the provincial government must find a remedy that will ensure Tshwane residents are prioritized.

“The People of Tshwane must come first. We are dealing with a very situation and are tasked with finding a remedy that will result in the strength of municipal council to manage its own affairs and functions.

"Importantly, it must be a remedy that will stabilise that municipal council to manage its own affairs and functions. It must be a remedy that will stabilize the municipal council and enable it to continue to fulfil its executive obligations," said the court judgment. 

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