ICT-Works (Pty) Ltd v City of Cape Town
Self-review application considered by high court and decided inter alia in para  that ‘ Justice and equity dictate that the City should not benefit from its unreasonable delay and nor should ICT be prejudiced by the illegality of the contract. I, therefore, intend making an order declaring the contract to be invalid but not setting it aside retrospectively so as to preserve the rights which have already accrued to ICT. The order does not permit ICT to obtain further rights under the invalid agreement. The declaration of invalidity shall also not affect any payments made by the City to ICT in terms of the contract up to an including 5 July 2019’.
(6582/2020)  ZAWCHC 119 (18 June 2021)
1 The main application is dismissed.
2 The counter-application succeeds only to the extent that the contract concluded between the parties on 24 February 2010 is declared unlawful and invalid.
3 The order in paragraph 2 does not have the effect of divesting ICT-Works Proprietary Limited of any rights which may have accrued to it prior to the date of this judgment and does not affect any payments that may have been made to it in terms of the contract up to and including 5 July 2019.
4 The City of Cape Town is directed to pay the costs of ICT-Works Proprietary Limited in both the main application and the counter-application, inclusive of the costs of two counsel.
“ This not the end of the enquiry, however. Even where there is no basis for a court to overlook an unreasonable delay, a court may nevertheless be constitutionally compelled to declare the organ of state’s conduct unlawful. As the court observed in Gijima, this is so because section 172(1)(a) of the Constitution enjoins a court to declare invalid any law or conduct that it finds to be inconsistent with the Constitution . In Buffalo City, the Constitutional Court held that the Gijima principle applies “where the unlawfulness of the impugned decision is clear and not disputed” .
 The contract entered into was clearly unlawful on the undisputed facts before this court with regard to the section 33 process. This court must, therefore, declare the contract invalid and set it aside. The unlawfulness of the contract entered into with ICT cannot be ignored and the court is obliged, as in Buffalo City and Gijima, to set aside a contract it knows to be unlawful. Of course, the court must make an order that is just and equitable and which may ameliorate any hardship which could follow the declaration of invalidity.”
Quotations from judgment
Note: Footnotes omitted and emphasis added
 This case concerns a contract concluded in 2011 between ICT-Works Proprietary Limited (“ICT”) and The City of Cape Town (“the City”). The contract was pursuant to a tender for the installation and maintenance of an automated fare collection system for the MyCiti Bus Service.
 The City is a municipality established in terms of Local Government: Municipal Structures Act which, amongst other things, manages the metropolitan area of Cape Town. ICT is a company with limited liability duly established and incorporated as such according to the laws of the Republic of South Africa.
 There are two distinct but related applications before this court with regard to the contract.
 In the first application, ICT seeks declaratory and interdictory relief to enforce the contract until it expires in August 2025 (“the main application”). While the City accepts that the contract in its current form expires in August 2025, it opposes the main application on the basis that the contract is unenforceable due to a mistake relating to the duration of the contract and, in addition, the person signing the contract on behalf of the City lacked the requisite authority to sign a contract which expires in August 2025. In the City’s view, the contract was intended to be for a limited period of 7 years and was envisaged to expire in February 2018.
 The second application is a conditional counter-application (“the self-review application”) in which the City seeks to review and set aside decisions of its Council made in 2010 leading to the conclusion of the contract, and to declare the contract unlawful. It also seeks ancillary relief concerning the prospective effect of the orders sought. ICT opposes the City’s self-review application and denies that the contract was concluded unlawfully.
. . . . .
Issues and submissions
 It is common cause that the contract as currently worded runs until August 2025. This is apparent from the Schedule of Deviations and the Taking-Over Certificate issued by the Engineer.
 ICT relies on the plain wording of the contract and seeks a declaratory order that the contract is still extant and continues until August 2025.
 The City, on the other hand, contends that it was always intended that the total contract period would be for seven years. The City alleges that the amendment of clauses 13B.2 (b) and 13B.6(b) discloses a mistake which was unnoticed because Ms Whare and the Engineer did not work initially with the Schedule of Deviations but with phrases disembodied from their contractual context.
They had intended merely to effect changes to the contract to cater for the considerable time which had elapsed since the contract had been put out to tender. Furthermore, Mr Marsden did not have the authority to sign a contract binding the municipality to a contract which was, in effect, for more than 14 years instead of the 7 years as intended by the City.
Accordingly, the City is of the view that the contract has lapsed and is of no force or effect.
 ICT bases its claim for the enforcement of the contract in the main application on the law of contract. Similarly, the City also relies on the private law of contract – mistake and lack of authority – to avoid being bound by the AFC system contract. Out of an abundance of caution, the City has applied by way of a counter-application for an order declaring the contract to be invalid as it was not in compliance with section 33 of the MFMA.
 The City has sought to argue that its defences of no authority and mistake are contractual defences which arise from facts which occurred after the award of the tender.
In this regard, the City places great weight on two decisions:
- Cape Metropolitan Council v Metro Inspection Services (Western Cape) CC and Others and
- Government of the Republic of South Africa v Thabiso Chemicals (Pty) Ltd .
In Thabiso Chemicals, Brand JA held that, once the tender in that case was awarded, the relationship between the parties was governed by the principles of contract law .
 These cases, however, do not assist the City. They concern conduct after the conclusion of the contract. When the contract terms were being negotiated, ICT was a preferred bidder and the tender had yet not been awarded to it. The tender was only awarded after Mr Marsden had signed the contract and the City Manager had notified ICT that the City had awarded the contract to it (ICT) .
 The decision by the City to conclude the contract is public in nature. It has obvious impacts on the public and the public interest (not to mention the use of public funds). And it was made within the legislative and regulatory framework governing local government, including the MFMA.
In Polokwane Local Municipality v Granor Passi (Pty) Ltd and another , Wallis JA dealt as follows with the submission that a resolution taken by a municipality in relation to a contract was contractual and could not be reviewed and set aside under PAJA:
The resolution undoubtedly embodied a decision. Was it of an administrative nature? In my view a decision regarding the implementation of a contract to which the municipality is a party is an act of administration. It was taken by an organ of state, exercising a public power or function in relation to the enforcement of a contract concluded in terms of the empowering provisions governing transactions of this character. It had a direct, external legal effect and adversely affected Granor’s rights. It did not fall within any of the statutory exceptions. Accordingly, it was administrative action and reviewable under PAJA.”
 When Mr Marsden signed the contract, he was not exercising a power in terms of a clause in the contract and he was not exercising a private contractual power. He was exercising a public power, delegated to him by the City Manager, whose powers to conclude a contract are governed by statute (the MFMA).
Furthermore, Mr Marsden did not exercise an independent discretion when signing the contract but was merely a signatory to a contract which had already been negotiated and which the Council had resolved to accept. Such conduct plainly falls within the ambit of administrative action (and is in any event the exercise of public power).
 In my view, whether or not specific performance should be granted or whether the City should be allowed to escape the consequences of the contract through mistake or lack of authority, depends on whether or not the contract is lawful. If the contract is unlawful, any acts (or decisions) taken as a consequence of the unlawful contract are rendered invalid.
 Fundamental to the resolution of both applications is the answer to the question: was the municipality empowered to conclude the contract that it did or, put differently, was the contract lawfully concluded in compliance with the legislative prescripts which had to be followed in concluding the contract?
As the Constitutional Court remarked in Fedsure Life Insurance Ltd and Others v Greater Johannesburg Transitional Metropolitan Council and Others :
“… a local government may only act within the powers lawfully conferred upon it. There is nothing startling in this proposition – it is a fundamental principle of the rule of law, recognised widely, that the exercise of public power is only legitimate were lawful. The rule of law – to the extent at least that it expresses the principle of legality – is generally understood to be a fundamental principle of constitutional law”. (footnote omitted)
 The City submitted that it is not obliged to bring a review application in circumstances where the contract was purportedly not properly concluded (because of a mistake or lack of authority) or had lapsed due to the effluxion of time.
The City’s contention is without legal foundation. The Constitutional Court has held that organs of state may not engage in self-help when they contend that there has been an irregularity in public administration: they are obliged to approach the courts to determine the question .
 The City does not dispute that its powers to contract are derived from and limited by the MFMA. That is public power. Alleged non-compliance with the MFMA is at the core of the City’s case. Mr Marsden’s actions stand unless reviewed and set aside as long as he was purportedly exercising a power derived from statute and doing so for the purpose of concluding a public contract.
As Counsel for ICT argued, the decision to conclude a contract, and the actual conclusion of it through signature, are inseparable: they stand or fall together.
 Logically, the same principle must apply to the contractual defence of mistake. The foundation of the two defences is the same, namely a lack of consensus between the parties –
- in the one case, because of the content of the contract, and
- in the other case, because of the lack of authority to bind one of the parties.
If an allegation of lack of authority gives rise to the need for review, so, too, must the allegation of mistake.
 In its conditional counter-application, the City seeks to set aside its decision of 9 December 2010 to approve the contract in terms of section 33 of the MFMA, and its decisions to approve the tender and to authorise its City Manager or his delegate to sign the AFC system contract on behalf of the City. The City contends that the Council did not approve the entire contract exactly as it was executed, as required by sub-section 33(1)(c)(iii) of the MFMA.
Accordingly, the decision did not comply with a mandatory and material procedure or condition prescribed by the MFMA, and thus contravenes the MFMA.
 The City is candid (and it is common cause) that there is doubt as to whether or not the full Schedule of Deviations served before the Council. However, according to the City, this issue is unimportant because the recommendation upon which the resolution was based presupposed a 7-year contract and not a contract in excess of 14 years.
 For its part, ICT opposes the counter-application on three grounds:
[65.1] firstly, the City’s review application is unreasonably and impermissibly late;
[65.2] secondly, non-compliance with section 33 of the MFMA does not automatically result in nullity as the Council complied with the provisions of section 33 of the MFMA in its decision-making process; and
[65.3] thirdly, even if the City’s arguments about section 33 of the MFMA are correct, the City’s conduct was unconscionable when measured against the constitutional principles of reliance, accountability and rationality and, in light of its conduct, the City should be estopped from raising the alleged invalidity of the contract.
 Before considering the submissions of the parties, it is necessary to consider the general legal principles that have evolved relating to the principle of legality and self-review by organs of state, as well as the relevant legislative instruments against which the City’s conduct is to be measured.
The principle of legality and self-review
 The principles governing self-reviews by organs of state and reactive challenges to extant administrative and executive decisions appear to be settled, and it is possible to distil the following principles from the existing legal authorities:
[67.1] Organs of state acting in their own interest and seeking to set aside their own decisions, must rely on the principles of legality and may not rely on the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (“PAJA”) . However, there is very little distinction between the grounds of review of administrative action under PAJA and the review of executive action under the principle of legality.
Plaskett AJA (as he then was) on behalf of the Supreme Court of Appeal, explained this in Minister of Home Affairs and Another v Public Protector
“… broad grounds going to the lawfulness, procedural fairness and reasonableness of official decisions have been recognised … The only difference in the grounds of review that I can discern at present is that those exercising executive power have been exempted from having to act fairly … and disproportionality (as an aspect of unreasonableness) has not yet been recognised as a ground of review…”
Thus, those exercising executive power may rely on the PAJA grounds of review in a legality review except those grounds relating to reasonableness and procedural fairness, and they may also rely on procedural rationality .
[67.2] Decisions made by organs of state which are not challenged in the appropriate proceedings, by the right parties seeking the right remedy, at the right time, are treated as effective and binding, unless they are set aside by a court – even if the decisions may be vitiated by some irregularity . As the Supreme Court of Appeal observed in Minister of Home Affairs and Another v The Public Protector,
“until a court is appropriately approached and an allegedly unlawful exercise of public power is adjudicated upon, it has binding effect merely because of its factual existence”.
[67.3] Once the subject has relied upon a decision, a government cannot, barring specific statutory authority, simply ignore what it has done. Organs of state are not entitled to simple disregard administrative actions, even if they believe the decisions to be unlawful, unless and until those decisions are set aside by a competent court. To do otherwise, would be impermissible self-help, which is contrary to the rule of law . Organs of state have a higher duty to respect the law, to fulfil procedural requirements, and to respect rights when doing so .
[67.4] Where an administrative decision has not been frontally challenged in review proceedings, and a party challenges its validity in opposing proceedings in which the other party relies on the decision, the party impugning the decision raises what the Constitutional Court terms a “reactive challenge” .
Where the party concerned was aware of the decision, and a legal challenge was immediately available to it, the delay rule plays an important role .
[67.5] The delay rule applies to reviews under the principle of legality.
It requires a party to institute review proceedings within a reasonable time. The Constitutional Court has emphasised that this requirement is informed by the constitutional duty on all organs of state to perform their constitutional obligations without undue delay . The requirement “is based on sound judicial policy that includes an understanding of the strong public interest in both certainty and finality. People may base their actions on the assumption of the lawfulness of a particular decision and the undoing of the decision threatens a myriad of consequent actions” .
[67.6] The issue of delay is determined by using a two-stage process.
[67.7] In the first stage, the court determines whether the delay is unreasonable or undue. This is factual enquiry in which all relevant circumstances are considered, and the court makes a value judgment . The court will consider the explanation provided for the delay and the explanation should cover the entire period of the delay. Where there is no explanation, the delay will necessarily be unreasonable .
[67.8] In the second stage, if the delay is unreasonable, the court must determine whether it should exercise its discretion to overlook the delay to entertain the application . There must be a good reason for the court to do so, based on objective facts. The test is flexible and is informed by several factors:
[67.8.1] The potential prejudice to affected parties as well as the possible consequences of setting aside the impugned decision, and any prejudice may be ameliorated by the court’s power to grant just and equitable remedies .
[67.8.2] The nature of the impugned decision. This requires a court to somewhat consider the merits of the challenge .
[67.8.3] The conduct of the party bringing the review. In Buffalo City, Theron J held that
“[t]his is particularly true for state litigants seeking to review their own decisions for the simple reason that often they are best placed to explain the delay”.
[67.9] Where a court refuses to determine the validity of a decision (even a decision vitiated by irregularity) as a result of unreasonable delay, the delay “in a sense would … ‘validate’ nullity” . The rationale behind this principle is the need for certainty and finality for both parties affected by a decision as well as the administration of the state.
[67.10] In exceptional cases, even if a review is unreasonably late and there is no basis to overlook the delay, a court may still be required to declare conduct unlawful . This principle – the so-called “Gijima principle” – applies only where “the unlawfulness of the impugned decision is clear and not disputed” .
In Buffalo City, Theron J held that this principle must be
“interpreted narrowly and restrictively so that the valuable rationale behind the rules on delay are not undermined” .
The regulatory framework for the acquisition of goods and services
 Every municipality must have and implement a supply chain management policy (“SCM policy”) that gives effect to the MFMA’s requirements relating to supply chain management . In reflecting the principles of section 217(1) of the Constitution, the SCM policy must be “fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective” . The City has adopted a SCM policy which is in accordance with the MFMA and the Municipal Supply Chain Management Regulations issued by the National Treasury.
 A municipality’s SCM policy is not only an internal management document that binds the municipality in the execution of its procurement activities but it is also a public document to which parties wishing to participate in tendering processes have a right of access and they must comply with these rules when they participate in any tenders .
 In general, councillors are prohibited from being involved in procurement matters and may not be members of bid committees or attend bid committee meetings . An exception is made when it comes to the procurement of goods and services which involve long-term financial commitments for a municipality. In contracts of this sort, the council takes centre stage. However, until final approval by the council of a contract with long-term financial commitments, the usual procurement procedures must be followed .
 If a municipality wishes to enter into long-term contracts that may impose financial obligations on the municipality beyond the 3 years covered in its budget , section 33 of the MFMA provides that a municipality may enter into such contracts only if:
“(a) The municipal manager, at least 60 days before the meeting of the municipal council at which the contract is to be approved –
(i) Has in accordance with section 21A of the Municipal Systems Act –
(aa) made public the draft contract and an information statement summarising the municipality’s obligations in terms of the proposed contract; and
(bb) invited the local community and other interested persons to submit to the municipality comments or representations in respect of the proposed contract; and
(ii) has solicited the views and recommendations of –
(aa) the National Treasury and the relevant provincial treasury;
(bb) the national department responsible for local government; and
(cc) if the contract involves the provision of water, sanitation, electricity, or any other service as may be prescribed, the responsible national department;
(b) the municipal council has taken into account –
(i) The municipality’s projected financial obligations in terms of the proposed contract for each financial year covered by the contract;
(ii) the impact of those financial obligations on the municipality’s future municipal tariffs and revenue;
(iii) any comments or representations on the proposed contract received from the local community and other interested persons; and
(iv) any written views and recommendations on the proposed contract by the National Treasury, the relevant provincial treasury, the national department responsible for local government and any national department referred to in paragraph (a) (ii) (cc); and
(c) the municipal council has adopted a resolution in which –
(i) it determines that the municipality will secure a significant capital investment or will derive a significant financial economic or financial benefit from the contract;
(ii) it approves the entire contract exactly as it is to be executed; and
(iii) it authorises the municipal manager to sign the contract on behalf of the municipality.”
 It is apparent from the plain wording of section 33 of the MFMA that:
[72.1] The draft contract which the municipality proposes to conclude must be publicised and circulated for comment;
[72.2] The municipal council must carefully consider the municipality’s projected financial obligations for each financial year covered by the contract and how those obligations will impact on future municipal tariffs and revenue;
[72.3] The municipal council must consider the comments, representations, views, and recommendations received on the proposed contract;
[72.4] In adopting the resolution, the municipal council must be satisfied that the municipality will secure significant capital investment or derive significant financial economic benefit from the contract;
[72.5] The municipal council must approve the entire contract exactly as it is to be executed – this assumes that the contract to be executed is placed before the council when it makes its decision; and
[72.6] The municipal council must authorise the municipal manager to sign the contract, which the council has viewed and approved, on behalf of the municipality.
 Section 33 of the MFMA is important when viewed within the context of a council’s strategic responsibility for preparing a financial plan as part of its budgetary process for the municipality. Contracts that will last longer than 3 financial years impacts on municipal budgets and, hence, on future municipal tariffs and other revenue sources to cover the expenditure for the project. Indeed, budgets are a central element of a council’s financial duties and functions and it is one of those functions that cannot be delegated . It is, therefore, particularly important, as a general principle, that there is compliance with section 33 of the MFMA.
This is underscored by section 19(1)(c) of the MFMA which states that a municipality may only spend money on a capital project if
“section 33 (of the MFMA) has been complied with, if that section applies to the project concerned”.
Was there an unreasonable delay?
 There is no dispute that, objectively, the City delayed in launching its counter-application for self-review. The City’s Council took a decision on 9 December 2010 to approve the contract which then commenced on 25 February 2011. The City launched a reactive counter-application on 26 October 2020, that is, more than nine years and eight months after the Council took the decision.
 ICT submitted that the City’s delay in prosecuting its review application is impermissibly unreasonable and has furnished lengthy submissions in this regard. The City, on the other hand, alleges that it has provided a proper explanation for its delay and that, at a factual level, there was no unreasonable or undue delay.
 I deal hereunder with only those aspects of the City’s delay that I deem relevant in assessing the issue of the delay:
 There is no explanation whatsoever for the delay between February 2011 (when the contract was concluded) and August/September 2018 when the City states it discovered the irregularity whilst conducting a review of all existing contracts to ascertain compliance with section 33 of the MFMA.
In Buffalo City, the Constitutional Court noted that,
“municipalities must have effective structures and mechanisms in place to ensure proper oversight for its service delivery project. This is one of its core responsibilities. It must detect and prevent the abuse of taxpayers’ monies. A lack of effective oversight leads to a dysfunctionality within the municipality by creating loopholes for fraud and corruption” .
 Municipalities are obliged in terms of section 116(1) of the MFMA to conduct a periodic review of all contracts once every three years in the case of contracts for longer than 3 years. If the City had in fact conducted a proper review and complied with its statutory obligation, it may well have uncovered the discrepancy much sooner, as indeed it did during the review of contracts conducted in August/September 2018. The failure to provide an explanation for this delay makes the delay unreasonable .
 In the City’s replying affidavit in the counter-application, the deponent, Mr Fortune, states as follows with regard to the August/September 2018 review:
“The review established that the section 33 process that had been followed did not allow for a contract of longer than seven years duration. On the basis of this, the City Manager concluded that the contract was no longer valid”.
This is the self-same basis on which the City now brings its self-review application. If the City was serious about correcting its non-compliance with section 33 of the MFMA, this would have been an ideal opportunity to do so and one would have expected the City to have immediately taken the necessary legal steps to correct the situation. However, it did not do so.
 Between October 2018 and July 2019 (a period of approximately nine months), the City engaged ICT on the validity of the contract and also sought legal advice from its internal and external legal advisors. The City’s explanation for this nine-month delay is unreasonable since the Municipal Manager had already taken a firm view that the contract was unlawful in August/September 2018 and this was communicated to ICT.
 The City entered into a further additional contract (Contract 2A) with ICT in July 2019. Having done so, surely the Municipality must have by then decided that the AFC system contract was at an end. However, it did not nothing much between July 2019 to 27 Mach 2020 (approximately eight months) when the City issued a new tender. In the absence of an explanation, the eight-month delay is unreasonable.
 After the City issued a new tender on 27 March 2020, it engaged in settlement negotiations from mid-April to late May 2020, which negotiations were unsuccessful. Again, a period of two months had lapsed (March to May 2020) for which there is no reasonable explanation. What negotiations would have achieved in the light of a clear and material irregularity, is unclear. Settlement negotiations could not cure the irregularity, especially when this irregularity had an impact on budgetary processes. Accordingly, this two-month delay, too, is unreasonable.
 The City knew from at least September 2018 that the contract was unlawful for lack of compliance with section 33 of the MFMA and yet it waited until 6 June 2020 for ICT to launch the main application before the City decided to file its counter-application which was done on 26 October 2020. The City provided no explanation for certain periods of the delay and those periods where it did provide an explanation, the explanations provided were largely unsatisfactory. Indeed, having regard to the City’s explanations for the delay, it is difficult not to conclude that the City’s delay in bringing the self-review was not only unreasonable but egregious.
Should the delay be overlooked?
 In deciding whether or not to overlook the City’s unreasonable delay, it is necessary to consider the nature of the impugned decision and the conduct of the City in approaching this court. Each of these factors must be considered separately and the latter alone is sufficient to refuse to overlook the delay .
 Regarding the nature of the impugned decision, the City contends that the contract is invalid because it is in breach of section 33 of the MFMA in that it is more than 7 years in duration. I agree.
From the evidence placed before this court, it is apparent that the City’s section 33 resolution of 9 December 2010 was based on the recommendation of the Mayoral Committee of 1 December 2010. This recommendation, in turn, was based on the report of the BAC which was, in turn, based on the report of the BEC.
All the reports and recommendations disclosed that the intended contract period for the entire contract, including both construction and maintenance, was 7 years. The information statement that was publicised in terms of the section 33 process makes it clear that the contract period was for 7 years, and the engagement with national and provincial departments was based on a 7-year contract period. Indeed, the City stoutly defended its stance that the contract should not be longer than 7 years.
Crucially, the financial obligations for each of the 7 financial years were disclosed in the recommendation and the subsequent Council resolution.
 It is so that there is some doubt whether or not the full Schedule of Deviations, disclosing in effect a contract in excess of 14 years, served before the City’s Council. However, what is apparent is that the recommendation upon which the resolution was based admits of no doubt: the Council resolved to conclude a contract which would endure for only 7 years. Accordingly, the fact that the City concluded a contract which endures for more than 14 years is a material irregularity.
 Counsel for ICT argued that the failure to comply with section 33 of the MFMA does not nullify the contract. I do not agree.
While it is indeed so that non-compliance with certain statutory formalities may not lead to nullity, it is necessary, however, to ascertain whether there was substantial compliance with section 33 of the MFMA in light of its purpose .
 In my view, the purpose of s 33 of the MFMA is to ensure that the council is fully apprised of the financial impact, both in terms of expenditure and income, of the long-term project on the budget of the municipality. Given the budgetary implications of contracts longer than 3 years, a council ought to consider the sources of funding for the project during each financial year in which the contract for the project is to endure. In this matter, if, on ICT’s argument, the contract was to endure for at least 14 years, it means that the Council would have had to apply its collective mind to how the expenditure for the AFC system contract would be covered for each of the 14 years and would have to make provision in its budget for this expenditure. However, the financial impact of the project expenditure after year 7 was not made available to the Council.
 The length of the contract, and its attendant financial consequences, would of necessity have a ripple effect on other issues which required a resolution by the Council, such as whether or not the project has a financial benefit. Clearly, the Council could only make such a determination if it had all the available information at its disposal for the entire contract period.
In the matter at hand, the Council only had at its disposal the financial information for 7 financial years and no longer. It could, therefore, not legitimately conclude that the City would derive a significant economic financial benefit from the contract beyond 7 years.
 It was further argued on behalf of ICT that section 33 of the MFMA does not prohibit contracts with a variable termination date: it merely adds a layer of procedure to be followed where a contract will have financial obligations for a municipality beyond the 3-year budget cycle. It was also argued that the contract in this matter was a standard FIDIC contract which made provision for the issue of variation orders where there may be a delay in the completion of the Works or if the scope of the Works was to be increased. This would invariably push forward the completion date of the project.
 However, ICT’s interpretation of section 33 of the MFMA is difficult to reconcile with the plain wording of the aforesaid section which states expressly that a municipality must make provision for each financial year of the project. In any event, if there were to be variation orders during the course of the contract period which may have required an extension of the completion date of the project, clause 232 of the City’s SCM policy (applicable at that time) makes provision for such an eventuality. This clause provides that “any increase in contract period must be approved by the BAC and that the community must be advised of the proposed increase and be invited to provide written comments thereon”. It is common cause that no application to the BAC was made to increase the contract period after the commencement of the contract.
 Furthermore, the section 33 process is not meant to interfere with the normal procurement process. The section 33 process concerns itself with the length or duration of a contract and whether or not adequate financial resources are in place to secure the financial commitments arising from the contract. The Council is not meant to re-evaluate or re-adjudicate the tender. Extending the contract period for longer than 7 years constitutes a material deviation from the tender document in relation to the duration of the contract and, as such, is unfair and in breach of the principles of fairness, competitiveness, and transparency . In effect, the contract represents a tender that was materially different from the one that was evaluated and adjudicated.
 In my view, it is clear and undisputed that the contract entered into with ICT for a period in excess of 7 years was unlawful in that it contravened section 33 of the MFMA as well as the threshold requirements of fairness, competitiveness, and transparency which are required for a valid procurement process.
 On the other hand, the conduct of the Municipality in bringing this application proscribes this court from overlooking the delay. As counsel for ICT so cogently argued, the City’s vacillating stance, its resort to self-help, the unacceptable explanation for the delay in bringing this self-review application, and its dilatory attitude, all militate against this court overlooking the delay. I agree and am unable to find any basis upon which the delay may be overlooked.
 This not the end of the enquiry, however. Even where there is no basis for a court to overlook an unreasonable delay, a court may nevertheless be constitutionally compelled to declare the organ of state’s conduct unlawful.
As the court observed in Gijima, this is so because section 172(1)(a) of the Constitution enjoins a court to declare invalid any law or conduct that it finds to be inconsistent with the Constitution .
In Buffalo City, the Constitutional Court held that the Gijima principle applies
“where the unlawfulness of the impugned decision is clear and not disputed” .
 The contract entered into was clearly unlawful on the undisputed facts before this court with regard to the section 33 process. This court must, therefore, declare the contract invalid and set it aside. The unlawfulness of the contract entered into with ICT cannot be ignored and the court is obliged, as in Buffalo City and Gijima, to set aside a contract it knows to be unlawful. Of course, the court must make an order that is just and equitable and which may ameliorate any hardship which could follow the declaration of invalidity.
 ICT has argued that it will suffer actual and potential prejudice if the City’s self-review application is upheld. In light of the August 2025 termination date in the contract and the earlier assurances of the validity of the contract provided to ICT by the City, ICT concluded employment contracts, financing contracts, and lease agreements to ensure that it could meet its obligations under the contract.
 While it may be so that ICT may suffer some prejudice, one must take into account the fact that ICT is contracted to perform the same services on the same terms for an uninterrupted period until 30 June 2021, albeit under a different contract. This means that ICT has had the benefits of a contract from March 2018 to June 2021, that is, more than three years, without having to tender for it.
 Justice and equity dictate that the City should not benefit from its unreasonable delay and nor should ICT be prejudiced by the illegality of the contract. I, therefore, intend making an order declaring the contract to be invalid but not setting it aside retrospectively so as to preserve the rights which have already accrued to ICT. The order does not permit ICT to obtain further rights under the invalid agreement. The declaration of invalidity shall also not affect any payments made by the City to ICT in terms of the contract up to an including 5 July 2019.
 Ordinarily, in a commercial matter like this, even though there are broad issues of public interest at stake, costs would follow the result. Both parties have been partially successful in that the contract was declared to be unlawful but has not been set aside retrospectively and ICT is not divested of its accrued benefits under the contract.
 It appears to me, however, that ICT should not be mulcted with the costs of the main application which it brought in good faith and in the absence of any indication that the City would invoke reactive relief under the principle of legality. The City, too, gave ICT assurances since at least 2015 up until 2018 with regard to the extended duration of the agreement and did not do anything to correct the situation until ICT instituted legal action.
 The fact that the City has achieved nominal success to the extent that there is a declaration of constitutional invalidity, does not mean that the City should not bear the consequences of its failure to comply with its constitutional obligation to approach the court to correct the irregularity as soon as it was identified. Substantially, too, and not unlike the position of the respondent in Gijima, it is ICT that succeeds. I say so because it is obvious that the City’s belated efforts were directed at avoiding the contract whereas ICT, on the other hand, in good faith took legal action in seeking to enforce the contract and succeeded in not being divested of the benefits accruing to it under the contract.
In the circumstances, I make the following order:
1. The main application is dismissed.
2. The counter-application succeeds only to the extent that the contract concluded between the parties on 24 February 2010 is declared unlawful and invalid.
3. The order in paragraph 2 does not have the effect of divesting ICT-Works Proprietary Limited of any rights which may have accrued to it prior to the date of this judgment and does not affect any payments that may have been made to it in terms of the contract up to and including 5 July 2019.
4. The City of Cape Town is directed to pay the costs of ICT-Works Proprietary Limited in both the main application and the counter-application, inclusive of the costs of two counsel.