Districts of South Africa

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politics and government of
South Africa

The nine provinces of South Africa are divided into 52 districts (sing. district, Tswana: kgaolo; Sotho: setereke; Northern Sotho: selete; Afrikaans: distriks; Zulu: isifunda; Southern Ndebele: isiyingi; Xhosa: isithili; Swazi: isigodzi; Venda: tshiṱiriki; Tsonga: xifundza), which are either metropolitan or district municipalities. They are the second level of administrative division, below the provinces and (in the case of district municipalities) above the local municipalities.

As a consequence of the 12th amendment of the Constitution in December 2005, which altered provincial boundaries, the number of districts was reduced from 53. Another effect of the amendment is that each district is now completely contained within a single province, thus eliminating cross-border districts. The districts also cover the entire area of the continental republic. South Africa's districts are analogous to counties in Great Britain and the United States.

Types of district

There are two types of municipality at the district level. Most of the country is covered by the 44 district municipalities, which are divided into local municipalities and share responsibilities with them. The eight largest urban agglomerations are governed by metropolitan municipalities, which act as both local and district municipalities.

District municipality

A district municipality (Tswana: mmasepala wa kgaolo; Sotho: masepala wa setereke; Northern Sotho: mmasepala wa selete; Afrikaans: distriksmunisipaliteit; Zulu: umasipala wesifunda; Southern Ndebele: umasipaladi wesiyingi; Xhosa: umasipala wesithili; Swazi: masipaladi wesigodzi; Venda: masipala wa tshiṱiriki; Tsonga: masipala wa xifundza) or Category C municipality is a municipality which executes some of the functions of local government for a district. The district municipality will in turn comprise several local municipalities, with which it shares the functions of local government. District municipalities are seen as successors to former Regional Services Councils (RSC).[1]

The Constitution, section 155.1.a,[2] defines "Category C" municipalities. The Municipal Structures Act[3] states that areas not eligible to have a metropolitan municipality must have a district municipality.

District municipalities have a municipality code that consists of the letters "DC" followed by a number from 1 to 48. The "DC" reflects the fact that they were originally named "District Councils".

District management areas

Currently all district municipalities are completely divided into local municipalities. However, before the alteration of municipal boundaries which occurred at the 2011 elections, some areas of the country did not fall within any local municipality. This usually occurred in areas with a very low population density, for example national parks and nature reserves. In these areas, which were known as District Management Areas, all local government services were provided by the district municipality.


The following map depicts the provinces and districts of South Africa. The district municipalities are labelled with numbers that correspond to their district code, while the metropolitan municipalities are labelled with letters that correspond to their names. Further details of the districts are listed in the table that follows the image.

Name Code Province Seat Area
Pop. density
(per km²)
44 Alfred Nzo District Municipality DC44 Eastern Cape Mount Ayliff 6,859 801,344 116.8
25 Amajuba District Municipality DC25 KwaZulu-Natal Newcastle 6,911 499,839 72.3
12 Amathole District Municipality DC12 Eastern Cape East London 21,043 892,637 42.4
37 Bojanala Platinum District Municipality DC37 North West Rustenburg 18,333 1,507,505 82.2
B Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality BUF Eastern Cape East London 2,536 755,200 297.8
2 Cape Winelands District Municipality DC2 Western Cape Worcester 22,309 787,490 35.3
35 Capricorn District Municipality DC35 Limpopo Polokwane 16,988 1,261,463 74.3
5 Central Karoo District Municipality DC5 Western Cape Beaufort West 38,854 71,011 1.8
13 Chris Hani District Municipality DC13 Eastern Cape Queenstown 36,695 795,461 21.7
C City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality CPT Western Cape Cape Town 2,460 3,740,026 1,520.3
J City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality JHB Gauteng Johannesburg 1,645 4,434,827 2,695.9
T City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality TSH Gauteng Pretoria 6,345 2,921,488 460.4
40 Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality DC40 North West Klerksdorp 14,642 695,933 47.5
39 Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality DC39 North West Vryburg 44,017 463,815 10.5
4 Eden District Municipality DC4 Western Cape George 23,331 574,265 24.6
32 Ehlanzeni District Municipality DC32 Mpumalanga Nelspruit 27,896 1,688,615 60.5
Ek Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality EKU Gauteng Germiston 1,924 3,178,470 1,652.0
Et eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality ETH KwaZulu-Natal Durban 2,292 3,442,361 1,501.9
20 Fezile Dabi District Municipality DC20 Free State Sasolburg 21,301 488,036 22.9
9 Frances Baard District Municipality DC9 Northern Cape Kimberley 13,518 382,086 28.3
30 Gert Sibande District Municipality DC30 Mpumalanga Ermelo 31,841 1,043,194 32.8
43 Harry Gwala District Municipality DC43 KwaZulu-Natal Ixopo 11,127 461,419 41.5
29 iLembe District Municipality DC29 KwaZulu-Natal KwaDukuza 3,269 606,809 185.6
14 Joe Gqabi District Municipality DC14 Eastern Cape Barkly East 25,663 349,768 13.6
45 John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality DC45 Northern Cape Kuruman 27,283 224,799 8.2
18 Lejweleputswa District Municipality DC18 Free State Welkom 31,930 627,626 19.7
M Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality MAN Free State Bloemfontein 6,284 747,431 118.9
33 Mopani District Municipality DC33 Limpopo Giyani 24,489 1,092,507 44.6
6 Namakwa District Municipality DC6 Northern Cape Springbok 126,836 115,842 0.9
N Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality NMA Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth 1,959 1,152,115 588.1
38 Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality DC38 North West Mafikeng 27,889 842,699 30.2
31 Nkangala District Municipality DC31 Mpumalanga Middelburg 16,758 1,308,129 78.1
15 OR Tambo District Municipality DC15 Eastern Cape Mthatha 15,968 1,364,943 85.5
3 Overberg District Municipality DC3 Western Cape Bredasdorp 11,405 258,176 22.6
7 Pixley ka Seme District Municipality DC7 Northern Cape De Aar 102,727 186,351 1.8
10 Sarah Baartman District Municipality DC10 Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth 58,194 450,584 7.7
42 Sedibeng District Municipality DC42 Gauteng Vereeniging 4,177 916,484 219.4
47 Sekhukhune District Municipality DC47 Limpopo Groblersdal 13,426 1,076,840 80.2
19 Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality DC19 Free State Phuthaditjhaba 32,637 736,238 22.6
21 Ugu District Municipality DC21 KwaZulu-Natal Port Shepstone 5,047 722,484 143.2
22 uMgungundlovu District Municipality DC22 KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg 8,934 1,017,763 113.9
27 uMkhanyakude District Municipality DC27 KwaZulu-Natal Mkuze 12,821 625,846 48.8
24 uMzinyathi District Municipality DC24 KwaZulu-Natal Dundee 8,589 510,838 59.5
23 uThukela District Municipality DC23 KwaZulu-Natal Ladysmith 11,326 668,848 59.1
28 uThungulu District Municipality DC28 KwaZulu-Natal Richards Bay 8,213 907,519 110.5
34 Vhembe District Municipality DC34 Limpopo Thohoyandou 21,349 1,294,722 60.6
36 Waterberg District Municipality DC36 Limpopo Modimolle 49,504 679,336 13.7
1 West Coast District Municipality DC1 Western Cape Moorreesburg 31,104 391,766 12.6
48 West Rand District Municipality DC48 Gauteng Randfontein 4,087 820,995 200.9
16 Xhariep District Municipality DC16 Free State Trompsburg 37,674 146,259 3.9
8 ZF Mgcawu District Municipality DC8 Northern Cape Upington 102,524 236,783 2.3
26 Zululand District Municipality DC26 KwaZulu-Natal Ulundi 14,799 803,575 54.3

Boundary alignment

Several projects are underway to align various services with the district boundaries.[5] These include:


South Africa's official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, believes that the districts add an unnecessary fourth layer of government (between provinces and municipalities) and has called for them to be eliminated.[6]

See also



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