The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for Gauteng cooperative governance MEC Lebogang Maile to be fired after the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Monday ruled that the provincial government’s decision last year to place the City of Tshwane under administration was unlawful.
Tshwane executive mayor Randall Williams welcomed the ConCourt’s ruling, saying the DA would ensure Maile is personally held to account for all legal costs involving his appeal of the case, and for wasting taxpayers’ money.
“MEC Maile must also be fired for his role in this,” Williams said.
Williams said the ConCourt’s majority ruling – which upheld earlier judgments by the Pretoria High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) last year – vindicated the DA’s stance that Maile’s decision to place Tshwane under administration from March to October last year was unwarranted.
“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,” Williams said in a statement.
He reiterated the DA’s view that the dissolution of the council was a politically motivated “power grab” on the part of Maile and the ANC to regain control of Tshwane after it lost the metro during the 2016 municipal elections.
“The Constitutional Court has affirmed the original judgment by the Gauteng North High Court in April 2020 and the ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal in October 2020, affirming the following: ‘The running of the City of Tshwane by an unelected administrator is the very antithesis of democratic and accountable government for local communities, enshrined in s[section] 152(1)(a) of the Constitution’”, Williams said.
Williams said the ConCourt ruling gave effect to the rights of voters to choose their elected councillors and preserved the autonomy of local government.
He said for months, the residents of Tshwane suffered under the unlawfully deployed administrators appointed by Maile to run the city’s affairs, leading to collapsing service delivery and Tshwane incurring a R4.3 billion deficit.
“The city was totally unresponsive to the needs of its residents as their legally elected representatives had been removed from office,” he said.
Williams added the ConCourt judgment would set an important precedent to protect municipalities from unlawful power grabs to drive political agendas.
“This judgment is a victory for the DA, but more so it is a victory for 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.”
In a brief statement, Maile’s office said it was still studying the ConCourt ruling and would respond in due course.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe