Zille on the judgment on the Erasmus Commission

Statement issued by the Mayor of Cape Town September 1 2008

The City of Cape Town welcomes the High Court ruling by Judges Kevin Swain and Chris Nicholson in the Cape High Court that the Erasmus Commission of Inquiry (into the City of Cape Town 's investigation of Councillor Badih Chaaban) is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The Court found that former Premier of the Western Cape , Ebrahim Rasool, did not have the power in law to appoint the Erasmus Commission. It agreed with the City that it was wrong for the Premier, via the Commission, to try to take on the power of the police by conducting a criminal investigation.

And it found that, overall, a commission of enquiry was unnecessary, because the City had answered - and shown its willingness to answer - all questions and requests for information put to it by the Provincial Government regarding the City Speaker's investigation of Chaaban.

Their ruling has vindicated the City's position and its decision to proceed to court.

The court has also confirmed our view that the Erasmus Commission was a blatant abuse of power by the ANC-led Provincial Government.

It found that the former Premier had no rational reason to establish the second Erasmus Commission, and that he acted with an "ulterior motive", with the intention of "embarrassing his political opponent".

The court also found that all of Rasool's stated concerns were addressed in the documents he had before him when he made the decision to launch a ‘second' Erasmus Commission. This should have satisfied him, and left him with no reason to appoint the commission.

The Court found that he ignored the evidence and proceeded with the Commission, which made his actions "malefides", or in bad faith.

The City has also been vindicated in its view that the Commission should not have been headed by a judge.

The Court found that it was inappropriate for a judge to be heading a commission of enquiry which was so clearly political in nature, as it risked compromising the independence of the judiciary.

And we note with concern the Court's finding that Provincial Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros had handed the former Premier a report from the police's search and seizure operation on a Fivaz and Associates operative's house. The court viewed this is a clear breach of the Constitutional separation of powers between the police and the executive.

Finally, we welcome the full recovery of ratepayers' funds spent on this case by the City following the order that province must pay all costs associated with our application and interdicts against the Commission.

We hope that this will be the last attempt by the ANC to unseat the Multi-Party Government of Cape Town until the next local government elections.

At a time when more local governments are being governed by parties other than the ANC, this ruling will also set an important precedent that will discourage similar abuses of power in future.

It is therefore a victory for the Constitution and for our democracy.

Statement issued by Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, September 1 2008