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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Chapter 7 - Local Government

Status of municipalities

151. (1) The local sphere of government consists of municipalities, which must be established for the whole of the territory of the Republic.

(2) The executive and legislative authority of a municipality is vested in its Municipal Council.

(3) A municipality has the right to govern, on its own initiative, the local government affairs of its community, subject to national and provincial legislation, as provided for in the Constitution.

(4) The national or a provincial government may not compromise or impede a municipality's ability or right to exercise its powers or perform its functions.

Objects of local government

152. (1) The objects of local government are -

(2) A municipality must strive, within its financial and administrative capacity, to achieve the objects set out in subsection (1).

Developmental duties of municipalities

153. A municipality must

Municipalities in co-operative government

154. (1) The national government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions.

(2) Draft national or provincial legislation that affects the status, institutions, powers or functions of local government must be published for public comment before it is introduced in Parliament or a provincial legislature, in a manner that allows organised local government, municipalities and other interested persons an opportunity to make representations with regard to the draft legislation.

Establishment of municipalities

155. (1) There are the following categories of municipality:

Category A: A municipality that has exclusive municipal executive and legislative authority in its area.

Category B: A municipality that shares municipal executive and legislative authority in its area with a category C municipality within whose area it falls.

Category C: A municipality that has municipal executive and legislative authority in an area that includes more than one municipality.

(2) National legislation must define the different types of municipality that may be established within each category.

(3) National legislation must

(4) The legislation referred to in subsection (3) must take into account the need to provide municipal services in an equitable and sustainable manner.

(5) Provincial legislation must determine the different types of municipality to be established in the province.

(6) Each provincial government must establish municipalities in its province in a manner consistent with the legislation enacted in terms of subsections (2) and (3) and, by legislative or other measures, must

(7) The national government, subject to section 44, and the provincial governments have the legislative and executive authority to see to the effective performance by municipalities of their functions in respect of matters listed in Schedules 4 and 5, by regulating the exercise by municipalities of their executive authority referred to in section 156(1).

Powers and functions of municipalities

156. (1) A municipality has executive authority in respect of, and has the right to administer

(2) A municipality may make and administer by-laws for the effective administration of the matters which it has the right to administer.

(3) Subject to section 151(4), a by-law that conflicts with national or provincial legislation is invalid. If there is a conflict between a by-law and national or provincial legislation that is inoperative because of a conflict referred to in section 149, the by-law must be regarded as valid for as long as that legislation is inoperative.

(4) The national government and provincial governments must assign to a municipality, by agreement and subject to any conditions, the administration of a matter listed in Part A of Schedule 4 or Part A of Schedule 5 which necessarily relates to local government, if

(5) A municipality has the right to exercise any power concerning a matter reasonably necessary for, or incidental to, the effective performance of its functions.

Composition and election of Municipal Councils

157. (1) A Municipal Council consists of

i     members appointed by other Municipal Councils to represent those other Councils; or

ii     both members elected in accordance with paragraph (a) and members appointed in accordance with subparagraph (i) of this paragraph.

(2) The election of members to a Municipal Council as anticipated in subsection (1)(a) must be in accordance with national legislation, which must prescribe a system

(3) An electoral system in terms of subsection (2) must ensure that the total number of members elected from each party reflects the total proportion of the votes recorded for those parties.

(4) If the electoral system includes ward representation, the delimitation of wards must be done by an independent authority appointed in terms of, and operating according to, procedures and criteria prescribed by national legislation.

(5) A person may vote in a municipality only if that person is registered on that municipality's segment of the national common voters roll.

(6) The national legislation referred to in subsection (1)(b) must establish a system that allows for parties and interests reflected within the Municipal Council making the appointment, to be fairly represented in the Municipal Council to which the appointment is made.

Membership of Municipal Councils

158. (1) Every citizen who is qualified to vote for a Municipal Council is eligible to be a member of that Council, except

(2) A person who is not eligible to be a member of a Municipal Council in terms of subsection (1)(a), (b),(d) or (e) may be a candidate for the Council, subject to any limits or conditions established by national legislation.

Terms of Municipal Councils

159. The term of a Municipal Council may be no more than four years, as determined by national legislation.

Internal procedures

160. (1) A Municipal Council

(2) The following functions may not be delegated by a Municipal Council:


(4) No by-law may be passed by a Municipal Council unless

(5) National legislation may provide criteria for determining

(6) A Municipal Council may make by-laws which prescribe rules and orders for

(7) A Municipal Council must conduct its business in an open manner, and may close its sittings, or those of its committees, only when it is reasonable to do so having regard to the nature of the business being transacted.

(8) Members of a Municipal Council are entitled to participate in its proceedings and those of its committees in a manner that


161. Provincial legislation within the framework of national legislation may provide for privileges and immunities of Municipal Councils and their members.

Publication of municipal by-laws

162. (1) A municipal by-law may be enforced only after it has been published in the official gazette of the relevant province.

(2) A provincial official gazette must publish a municipal by-law upon request by the municipality.

(3) Municipal by-laws must be accessible to the public.

Organised local government

163. An Act of Parliament enacted in accordance with the procedure established by section 76 must

i     consult with the national or a provincial government;

ii     designate representatives to participate in the National Council of Provinces; and

iii     nominate persons to the Financial and Fiscal Commission.

Other matters

164. Any matter concerning local government not dealt with in the Constitution may be prescribed by national legislation or by provincial legislation within the framework of national legislation.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.