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South Africa

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
South Africa

Municipalities in South Africa are a division of local government that lie one level down from provincial government, forming the lowest level of democratically elected government structures in the country. The foundation for this layer of government is set out in Chapter 7 of the Constitution of South Africa. Various Acts of Parliament have further defined these municipal structures since the inception of the current constitution.


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 regions that encompass some urbanised region or regions that might be regarded as a city.

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 six metropolitan municipalities in South Africa.

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. Six 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.

See also

External links

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