Municipal Demarcation Board: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

26 August 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

26 August 1999

Website for Municipal Demarcation Board:

The Chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board, Dr Sutcliffe, reported on the activities of the Board and introduces new members of the Committee to the four pieces of legislation dealing with local government. The Board has made suggestions as to the number of possible districts in the provinces.

Possible ratification and adoption of Provisional Programme
The Chairperson apologised for the mistake on the agenda which indicated that a provisional programme would be ratified and adopted. In fact only one element of the programme was to be discussed which was the new Municipal Structures Act. Agreement was reached that was an agreement that on Tuesday 31/8/99 this Act will be considered as well as the reasons why the Act is being challenged in court.

Municipal Demarcation Board report
Dr M Sutcliffe, Chairperson of SA Demarcation Board, presented the Board's report to the committee. In order to familiarise new members of the committee with the issues dealt with by the Board, Dr Sutcliffe introduced the four pieces of legislation pertaining to local government:
The Municipal Demarcation Act deals with the creation of the Demarcation Board as a national board to determine all municipal boundaries in the country. The sections of importance are S24, S25 and S25. Section 24 deals with the objectives to be achieved in determining a municipal boundary. Section 25 deals with the factors to be taken into account in determining the boundaries, which includes among others, the consideration of the interdependence of people, communities and economies. Section 26 identifies the process to be followed when determining municipal boundaries, which includes the publication and broadcasting of a notice, using local media, inviting comment about demarcation in the area.

The Municipal Structures Act sets out the political framework and structure of municipalities. This act deals in more detail, among other things, with categories and types of municipalities, establishment of municipalities and internal structures of municipalities.

The Municipal Systems Bill deals with the administration of local government.

The Local Government Financial Management Bill [which is being prepared by the Department of Finance and should be ready late this year] will deal with the financial management responsibilities of managers and their treasuries.

Dr Sutcliffe said that with its small staff the Demarcation Board intends to finalise the demarcation of boundaries in May 2000.

When the Board researched and determined metropolitan areas, eleven possible areas were identified. In the end after consultation it was decided that only five metropolitan areas should exist. The boundaries of these metros need to be publicly debated.

The cross-border areas where municipalities fall between the boundaries of two provinces or districts, are being investigated. These suggestions should be ready in a week's time and then will be available for comment.

In each province the following number of District/Metropolitan councils were identified and suggested:


Existing Metro/District
nodal points

Possible District/Metro nodal points










Northern Province



Western Cape



Northern Cape



Eastern Cape






Free State



Ms Verwoerd (ANC) asked what the municipalities should do in the next few months and what their role is with regard to demarcation. Dr Sutcliffe said that at the moment that is a very difficult issue as councils are presently preparing consultancy documents through consultants and in the process wasting money.

Dr Sutcliffe was questioned about the expertise within the Board and the reluctance of local government to engage with the board. Dr Sutcliffe said that there is quite a fair range of expertise, for instance, several former local government officials are on the board. On the question of reluctance to engage with the Board, Dr Sutcliffe said that there is lot of engagement with the Board but should there be such reluctance it should be communicated to the Board. The Board welcomes submissions and will appreciate solutions to problems raised.

A NNP member said that it is evident that there will be rationalisation of staff and asked what process will there be to ensure that staff are also taken on board when considering submissions. Dr Sutcliffe said that on this issue part of the Board's job would be to give advice to MECs on how to do this and recommendations from the Board would be made. Investigations and talks into this matter are under way with the MECs.

A query was raised about the census figures in the Free State. Dr Sutcliffe said that the census figures should be debated and one must look at the validity of the figures but at national level he believed the census is very good.

The Chairperson assured members that Dr Sutcliffe would be called to future meetings of this committee before adjourning the meeting.

Appendix 1:
The Board has resolved to finalise boundaries as follows:


Area of work

Target completion date

1. Policy

Development of policy on metropolitan and district council nodal points, cross boundary areas

Mid-July 1999


Development of policy on rationalising local area/municipal boundaries

Mid-September 1999


Advice on functions and powers

Mid-September 1999


Advice on metropolitan sub-councils

Mid-July 2000

2. Category A/B Boundaries

Determination of metropolitan and district council boundaries

End-October 1999

3. Category C Boundaries

Determination of local area/municipal boundaries in Category B areas

End-January 2000

4. Ward Boundaries

Determination of metropolitan and municipal boundaries

End-May 2000

5. Alignment of government boundaries

Alignment of all administrative boundaries




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