The North Gauteng High Court is in danger of usurping council powers if it rules on the DA’s court application, advocate Phaza Ngwanda, who represents the ANC, argued on Thursday.
The ANC wants the court to overturn an interim order that halted the removal of Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa earlier this month.
This comes after the ANC and the EFF successfully launched a motion of no confidence in the DA mayor, which the DA is challenging in court.
The ANC has raised six points to argue its position, saying, inter alia, that the DA’s application lacked the necessary jurisdiction, the judgment affected the separation of powers, and the interim relief was granted erroneously.
“We are saying at this juncture, the matter is not yet ripe for your attention. Until the applicants have exhausted all internal and local available options in council, this court should allow the parties in council, which is a political space, to sort out the political issues,” Ngandwa said.
He argued that the courts should exercise a measure of self-restraint and added that the DA had an “available effective and appropriate remedy”.
Ngandwa also challenged the DA’s suggestion that the council became violent on that day, saying that rowdy and robust engagement during sittings was part of politics in the country.
“The speaker called the meeting, she presided over the meeting, that makes the meeting legal. She, of her volition, says she recused herself and the meeting had to continue. That is contrary to what the applicants want to have you believe. The matter is political. I urge the court to tread carefully in matters that are related to politics. If you venture to deal with this issue, the danger is we invoke the idea of counter-majoritarian.”
During the council sitting, Speaker Katlego Mathebe recused herself. Hours of chaos over who would take over led MEC Lebogang Maile to take the reins.
The DA now argues that a council meeting that is not presided over by a speaker or a deputy speaker is invalid, saying these issues lie at the crux of the proceedings, the party’s advocate, Etienne Labuschagne, said.
“There is nothing to stop the ANC and the EFF from moving for the precise resolutions. As long as they can follow the rules and the statutes, they can assert their majority as long as they want. There is no questioning of an indeterminate lengthy period to keep the speaker, not at all,” Labuschagne’s colleague, advocate Nick Ferreira, also argued.