An applicant who applies to court for relief must demonstrate a legal basis for claiming the order sought. In Muldersdrift Sustainable Development Forum v The Council of Mogale City an unincorporated voluntary association that styled itself Muldersdrift Sustainable Development Forum was held to have no legal interest and no legal standing to seek a declaratory order that the local authority’s appointment of a municipal manager was invalid.

The municipal manager’s appointment was challenged under the Local Government Municipal Systems Act 2000 and the court held that the appointment was indeed procedurally defective.

Where a party seeks a declaratory order there is a two-stage enquiry. The court must be satisfied that the applicant has the necessary interest to apply for the order. Secondly the case must be a proper one for the exercise of the discretion to grant such an order. It is not ‘any old’ interest that will suffice. The interest must be one that deserves the intervention by the court.

Insufficient interest was shown by the applicant which had waited a year between the appointment and the efforts to challenge it. The flaws in the appointment did not result from fraud but from no more than an error on the part of the municipal council. There were no interests of justice or the public interest involved that justified the order or justified the delay. The application was dismissed.