Municipalities of South Africa

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Africa

Local government in South Africa consists of municipalities (Tswana: bommasepala; Sotho: bomasepala; Northern Sotho: bommasepala; Afrikaans: munisipaliteite; Zulu: ngomasipala; Southern Ndebele: bomasipala; Xhosa: ngoomasipala; Swazi: bomasipala; Venda: vhomasipala; Tsonga: vamasipala) of various types. The largest metropolitan areas are governed by metropolitan municipalities, while the rest of the country[1] is divided into district municipalities, each of which consists of several local municipalities. After the municipal election of 18 May 2011 there were eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and 226 local municipalities.[2]

Municipalities are governed by municipal councils which are elected every five years. The councils of metropolitan and local municipalities are elected by a system of mixed-member proportional representation, while the councils of district municipalities are partly elected by proportional representation and partly appointed by the councils of the constituent local municipalities.[3]


Municipalities can belong to one of three categories: metropolitan, district and local (referred to in the constitution as categories A, B and C).

Metropolitan municipalities

Metropolitan (or category A) municipalities represent large densely urbanised regions that encompass multiple cities and so constitute a metropolis.

For example, the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality encompasses the city of Durban and surrounding towns.

The Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area is actually covered by three municipalities: the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, and the West Rand District Municipality.

There are eight metropolitan municipalities in South Africa, with the most recently created concurrently with the 2011 municipal election being the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality surrounding the metropolitan area of Bloemfontein and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality around East London.

District and local municipalities

In areas which are primarily rural, the local government is divided into district municipalities and local municipalities.

District (or category C) municipalities are the main divisions of South Africa's provinces; they are subdivided into local (or category B) municipalities. Local municipalities share authority with the district municipality under which they fall.

For example, the Msunduzi Local Municipality is contained within the District Municipality of uMgungundlovu, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.



Metropolitan and district municipalities form the layer of government directly below provinces. Eight metropolitan municipalities and 46 district municipalities cover the entirety of South Africa.


Local municipalities represent a subdivision of the district municipalities, and form the third layer of government. Metropolitan municipalities have no such official subdivisions, but in one case, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, custom subdivisions have been established, known as administrative regions.

Electoral wards

The final layer of subdivision of electoral regions in South Africa are electoral wards. Local and metropolitan municipalities are subdivided into electoral wards.


Apart from Chapter 7 of the South African Constitution, the South African Parliament has passed several pieces of legislation to deal specifically with local government in South Africa.

Name changes

The South African Geographical Names Council is a statutory body that deals specifically with changing names of places in South Africa, including municipalities.

Reference List

  1. With the exception of the Prince Edward Islands, although they are for certain legal purposes deemed to fall within the City of Cape Town.
  2. "Municipal elections: fact file". Media Club South Africa. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  3. "Understanding Local Government". Community Organisers Toolbox. Education and Training Unit. Retrieved 24 May 2012.

See also

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.