DA welcomes ConCourt victory on Tshwane council, now wants MEC Lebogang Maile axed

Lebogang Maile announced on Friday that the Gauteng executive committee has decided to place the City of Tshwane under administration.
Lebogang Maile announced on Friday that the Gauteng executive committee has decided to place the City of Tshwane under administration.
Image: Mabuti Kali

The DA has welcomed a Constitutional Court judgment which set aside the Gauteng government’s decision to place the Tshwane council under administration last year.

The highest court in the land on Monday found that although there were exceptional circumstances, the decision was unlawful.

Now, the opposition DA has vowed to ensure that human settlements, urban planning and Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile is personally held to account or even axed from his position.

“It was obvious from the court judgment that the ANC’s action to put the City of Tshwane under administration for eight months, from March 2020 to October 2020, was a politically motivated power grab on the part of MEC Maile,” said the party's mayoral candidate Randall Williams.

“There was no justification for removing elected DA councillors from their positions and replacing them with administrators, who left the city in chaos and near financial ruin.”

The matter dates back to March last year, when the council, led by the DA, was dissolved and administrators put in place to take over the 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.

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. 

The DA said the move was long-awaited as the residents of Tshwane suffered “under unelected and unlawfully deployed ANC administrators imposed by MEC Maile”.

The DA will ensure that MEC Maile is personally held to account for all legal costs and for wasting taxpayers' money. MEC Maile must also be fired for his role in this.
Randall Williams

“In just eight months, they brought the city to its knees, collapsing service delivery and incurring a R4.3bn deficit,” said Williams.

Maile has since been ordered to conduct a probe into the cause of the deadlock at the council.

The apex court has also ordered ANC and EFF councillors to “attend and remain in attendance at all meetings of the municipal council unless they have a lawful reason to be absent”.

“The court's order properly ensures that the councillors duly elected by the citizens of Tshwane in 2016 are allowed to resume their rightful constitutional role, powers and responsibilities. The order gives effect to the rights of voters and preserves the autonomy of local government and it cannot be faulted,” said the DA.

The judgment would set a precedent to protect municipalities from unlawful power grabs and political agendas, according to the DA. 

“This judgment is a victory for the DA, but more so it is a victory for the residents of Tshwane, our constitution and local governance. This ruling has ensured that our constitution is protected and upheld and that the separation of powers between different spheres of government is entrenched.” 

Williams put the blame of the embattled city on the ANC.

“The perilous state of chaos and mismanagement that we inherited is a direct result of the ANC’s unlawful actions and the incompetence of the administrators deployed to the city. The DA will ensure that MEC Maile is personally held to account for all legal costs and for wasting taxpayers' money. MEC Maile must also be fired for his role in this.”

It also wants premier David Makhura to use the court as a learning experience, and demonstrate his seriousness about consequence management.

“Residents of Tshwane deserve remedial action for the suffering they incurred during this period of the unlawful administration. The DA was the only party that stood firm during this period of unlawful administration and fought against the ANC-led provincial government’s unlawful power grab."

The party has since promised to hit the ground running as it returns to office until November 1. It wants to stabilise the city’s finances, restore basic operations and service delivery.

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