In a majority judgment handed down on Monday, the ConCourt established four jurisdictional facts in terms of section 139(1)(c) of the constitution, that had to be established for the dissolution to be lawful.
“The first was the establishment of a failure to fulfil executive obligation. The second was the taking of the 'appropriate step'. The third was the existence of exceptional circumstances, and the fourth was that the exceptional circumstances had to warrant the dissolution.
“The court found that three of the jurisdictional facts had been established, but that the dissolution was not warranted in the circumstances. Thus the dissolution decision was found to be unlawful,” the court said.
In terms of remedy, the ConCourt set aside the high court’s ruling and substituted it with an order compelling the MEC to invoke his legal powers by appointing a person or a committee to investigate the cause of the council deadlock.
The matter dates back to March last year when the council was immediately dissolved and administrators took over functions of the city. Elections of a new council were to be held within 90 days as per the constitution.
The DA, after being served with a dissolution notice, launched an urgent application seeking to review and set aside the decision and compel opposition councillors to attend meetings. This was because it believed the move was politically motivated.
In June the Gauteng high court ruled in the DA's favour. It held that the provincial government had an obligation to apply less intrusive means in resolving the municipal council's dysfunctionality, and that a decision in terms of section 139(1)(c) would only be appropriate if it was likely to ensure the relevant obligation would be fulfilled.