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Wednesday May 28, 2014

Take on council at your peril, Tshwane mayor warns rich suburbs

Take on the Tshwane Municipality at your peril, mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa has warned. 'We want to send a message, especially to those in affluent suburbs who wanted the court to stop us from rolling out the smart metering project, that we are continuing with the project.

'We know who they are. The installation of the prepaid meters will start in the affluent areas where they live,' he told the city council this week.

Ramokgopa said courts should not be used as an alternative form of government. Detractors and their agents used courts to try to portray the city as bankrupt, he said.

'We defeated them like we did in the elections. This was yet another victory for our glorious movement (the ANC).'

Afrisake, the Afrikaans business rights watchdog, had asked the North Gauteng High Court to interdict the installation of equipment for the electricity smart metering project, and to set aside the services agreement between the City of Tshwane and PEU Capital Partners.

However, the application was dismissed. Judge Hans Fabricius ruled the court 'was not a legislator and should be loath to interfere with legislative or executive decisions, unless clearly shown'.

An application for a review of the project is pending in court. Ramokgopa said the city had successfully rolled out the smart meters to 332 large power users. The exercise was starting to yield positive results in revenue, he said.

Tshwane was also victorious in its battle for compensation for the 2011 merger of the former Metsweding, Kungwini and Nokeng tsa Taemane municipalities with the capital.

The Financial and Fiscal Commission found the move was costly considering that it was imposed on the municipality by the provincial government.

The costs of the merger had the potential to affect service delivery negatively, the commission found.

Ramokgopa said the decision was a victory for the ANC caucus in the city.

'When we were arguing this case, they objected.

'This issue would have adversely affected the financial position of the city. This is not only a victory for the poor and marginalised communities but also a social cohesion victory.'

The mayor referred to the case of the Blair Atholl Homeowners Association and two other applicants who sought a court order to set aside the decision by the City of Tshwane to adopt a draft rates policy and draft by-laws for this development. The application was dismissed with costs. However, it has not been all glory, as the city could be held in contempt of court in the ward committee case, which it lost in the high court.

The court ruled in favour of the DA. The party had applied to have the ward committee elections of 2012 declared unconstitutional, arguing the polls were held in the absence of any valid regulatory framework.

The city's application for leave to appeal was refused.

The Ramokgopa administration has since ignored calls for fresh elections and insisted the ward committees remain operational and effective pending the outcome of the appeal process.

However, attorney Tumi Mokoena advised that a court decision was binding from the moment it was issued.

Court decisions could only be overturned on appeal, said the man who also represents Economic Freedom Fighters commander-in-chief Julius Malema.

Mokoena said Tshwane could be held in contempt of court for allowing ward committees to continue with their duties as usual, despite the court order.

Contempt of court for non-compliance with court orders to act or not to act in a certain way is a criminal offence under the constitution.

Pretoria News


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