Notes: Municipal crisis: A justifiable limitation of political rights
Author: Matt Williams
Affiliations: Candidate Attorney, Webber Wentzel
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 140 Issue 1, p. 38-52
Section 56A of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 provided for the limitation of the political rights of municipal managers and managers directly accountable to municipal managers. The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) challenged the constitutionality of s 56A on both procedural and substantive grounds in the High Court. The substantive ground related to whether s 56A was a justifiable limitation of the s 19(1) right to make free political choices. Having found for SAMWU on procedural grounds the High Court did not decide the substantive ground. The Constitutional Court confirmed the High Court’s order. The nett result is that there has not been a judicial pronouncement on whether s 56A is a justifiable limitation of political rights. The successor provision to s 56A is s 71B, which was inserted into the Act by s 9 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Amendment Act 3 of 2022. This provision provides for the limitation of the political rights of municipal staff members. In the absence of a judicial pronouncement on this issue, this note applies a justification analysis in terms of s 36 of the Constitution and finds that s 71B is a justifiable limitation of the right to make free political choices.