Dissolution of Tshwane justified by absence of mayor, city manager and mayoral committee - advocate
This was said by advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who represented the provincial government in the case pursued by the DA in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to overturn the decision to put the City under administration.
The provincial government, under Premier David Makhura - the first respondent in the case - took the decision on March 4.
The DA approached the court to nullify the unbundling of Tshwane council, citing there were no exceptional grounds to effect council dissolution.
Ngcukaitobi shot down the assertion, saying the absence of the executive mayor, city manager and mayoral committee justified the move to put the metro under administration. He reasoned that failure by the City to spend money for urban settlements, and infrastructure grants, which were taken away by National Treasury, necessitated the dissolution.
He told the court that such financial mismanagement dated back to 2018 and was supported by the auditor-general's report.
One of the adverse findings showed that more than 90% of R1.6 billion could not be traced.
Ngcukaitobi said blame had to be laid squarely at the doors of the EFF and DA, who were in a “working together arrangement” to run the show.
“The elephant in the room is that the EFF no longer trusts the DA and the DA no longer trusts the EFF.”
He said walkouts by the ANC and EFF councillors, which hobbled the functionality of council, must be attributed to a political fallout between the EFF and the DA.
Earlier on, the DA’s legal representative, advocate Steven Budlender SC, argued that the provincial government jumped the gun by invoking Section 139 (1) (c), which effectively called for council dissolution.
The government, Budlender said, should have instead employed Section 139 (1) (b), which called for “less restrictive measures” to deal with problems in Tshwane.
“The dissolution can only be undertaken in exceptional circumstances,” he said.
The dissolution ought to be necessitated by the executive's inability to fulfil their obligations.
Budlender argued that putting the administrator in place was unlikely to solve the problem.
It was expected the administrator would be in charge for 90 days and thereafter by-elections would be held in all the City wards to vote for new councillors.
Budlender said council dissolution was unlikely to bring about a solution because the elections outcome could still produce a hung municipality.
The administrator, Mpho Nawa, was named on Monday and would be part of a 10-member team of experts to turn around the fortunes of the City.
Budlender said an administrator should have been appointed to address specific service delivery issues such as water services in Hammanskraal.
Ngcukaitobi refuted this, saying there were at least nine issues on which the government based its decision.
It emerged that councillors were not afforded a chance to affirm or disapprove the decision to dissolve council. The ANC supported the decision. The matter was heard before a full Bench. Judgment was reserved.