Gauteng High Court grants DA request to interdict Ekurhuleni special council sitting

30th January 2023 By: News24Wire

Gauteng High Court grants DA request to interdict Ekurhuleni special council sitting

The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg granted the Democratic Alliance (DA) an urgent interdict to halt a special council sitting of the Ekurhuleni Metro. 

The DA and council Speaker, Raymond Dhlamini, filed an urgent application to prevent the sitting of the Ekurhuleni council, which the City manager, Imogen Mashazi, had called for 30 January. 

The urgent court application was argued two hours ahead of the start of the special sitting at 10:00 on Monday. 

Dhlamini is facing a motion of no confidence, which seven minority political parties had brought to the Ekurhuleni council.

Dhlamini confirmed to News24 that the court had granted his office an interdict, and the Ekurhuleni council sitting could not go ahead.

He said he could now continue his duties as Speaker. 

The DA councillor said the court heard arguments that his actions were in line with his duties.

Mashazi had presided over the special sitting, but cancelled it shortly after it resumed following the interdict.

The urgent court matter was preceded by a chaotic council sitting on 26 January. 

Dhlamini had, on 26 January, presided over a council sitting which had included an agenda item on his fitness to hold office. 

A no confidence motion in Dhlamini was filed by smaller opposition political parties. When the motion was to be heard, there were chaotic scenes as councillors clashed with council staffers. 

Dhlamini said that, while he witnessed the scenes, he had no choice but to postpone the sitting, to probe the motives behind the violence. 

On 27 January, he wrote to political parties to seek a rescheduling of the council meeting, stating it was important that a caucus meeting with political chief whips be held before another council meeting was called. 

In his affidavit accompanying the court application, Dhlamini explained it was necessary for "safety and democracy" that a probe took place to ensure councillors were never injured in council. 

While Dhlamini shifted the time-frame for the next sitting, Mashazi approved a request from some political parties to hold a special sitting on 30 January. 

Dhlamini said Mashazi had acted unconstitutionally and unlawfully.

"There is no basis for the City manager to call or chair a meeting under the Municipal Structures Act. The City manager had no authority to act as she did. Her powers were not triggered as the fundamental jurisdictional requirements needed to be met," he argued.

"I am advised that the City manager's decision to call the meeting was procedurally irrational. She acted unlawfully in calling the meeting for 30 January," Dhlamini argued.

The court interdict was expected to form the first line of defence in the DA's bid to bring a formal court application against Mashazi's actions. 

Ekurhuleni is a hung municipality, with no political party holding a majority in the council.

The DA governs the metro in a minority coalition with the African Christian Democratic Party, Cope and Freedom Front Plus. 

Last year, the mayor, Tania Campbell, was briefly ousted in a motion of no confidence brought by the African National Congress (ANC).

A political dispute between the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters ensured Campbell was re-elected as mayor after the two parties failed to clinch an agreement.