Even ANC insiders say the move is "cadre deployment gone bad".
"When the court says the person is incompetent, I would imagine that you'd back off," a senior ANC member of the Southern Cape region said.
The Western Cape High Court ruled on June 1 that Oudtshoorn municipal manager Thandekile Mnyimba was not qualified for the position and declared his appointment null and void.
Mnyimba, an ANC member, was appointed in January despite being judged the least suitable of the five candidates who were shortlisted and interviewed for the position.
One of the unsuccessful candidates, Allan Paulse, also an ANC member, approached the court in Cape Town shortly after Mnyimba's appointment and asked it to review and set aside the appointment.
The court ruled in Paulse's favour and declared Mnyimba's appointment invalid as he did not meet the position's minimum competency levels.
Mnyimba was viewed the best candidate in the interviews by a selection committee of the council. But he was regarded as the poorest in all the other assessments, which were managed by an outside consultant, independent psychologist Riël Hugo.
The interviewing panel consisted of eight members of the ANC coalition, one of the Democratic Alliance and one of the Congress of the People. The coalition includes the ANC, Badih Chaaban's New People's Party and the Independent Civics Organisation of South Africa.
"Although he demonstrated that he definitely has potential, he displayed a lack of managerial experience, as he obtained a 'competent' or higher rating on only four of the 13 competencies assessed in the management exercise," said Hugo in his summary of the interviewing process.
"He came across as somewhat hesitant to take decisions and tended to refer, even administrative problems, to the executive mayor."
In the court papers, Paulse claimed that he had received reliable information to the effect that the ANC provincial treasurer, Fezile Calana, had instructed the ANC members of the selection committee that Mnyimba had to be appointed as municipal manager.
The court declined to rule on the issue of alleged political interference.
In an answering affidavit, Gordon April, the executive mayor of Oudtshoorn, argued that it was an accepted practice and norm in most municipalities that the interview process was the primary tool for making staff appointments.
But Judge Andre Blignaut dis-agreed, saying: "The fact of the matter is that Mnyimba possessed only four out of the 13 tested competencies. This result speaks for itself.
"Mr April himself said that the purpose of the competency tests was to establish whether the shortlisted applicants for the posts met the minimum competency levels. Mr Mnyimba clearly did not."
However, April instructed lawyers to appeal the court decision. But this decision was reversed at a council meeting of July 26, where, despite the ANC having a majority in the council, the opposition's proposal to reverse the appeal received a majority vote.
Then, on August 10, the mayor and the municipality launched an urgent interdict in the Western Cape High Court to reverse the council's decision, but the court ruled that the matter was not urgent and would be heard in November.
ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the party supports the actions of the Oudtshoorn municipality, adding that the court's ruling was based on a technical argument about the requirements of a municipal manager.
Mjongile said politically there was "a deeper background to the story".