Municipal Structures Act: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

01 September 1999
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

1 September 1999


Documents handed out:
Slide presentation on the Municipal Structures Act (available here on 7 September 1999)


Dr Crispian Olver, Deputy Director General of Local Government, in his presentation on the Municipal Structures Act said the judgment on the constitutional challenge of the Bill is expected within two weeks. This judgment is significant, as it will clear up unresolved constitutional debates pertaining to the Municipal Structures Act.


Implementing the Local Government White Paper
In order to give effect to the Local Government White Paper three pieces of legislation must be implemented. These are:

- Municipal Demarcation Act, 1998

- Municipal Structure Act (1999) (pending constitutional court judgement)

- Municipal Systems Bill (1999)

The Demarcation Act allows for the devising of 'areas' but not for the types of municipalities. The Structure Act aims to give these areas form. The Systems Bill - hopefully complete and ready to go to committee by October - will then give 'character' to these forms. Financial provisions will be provided by a Property Ratings Bill and an equivalent of the Public Finance Act that will be tabled at a later stage. For purposes of this meeting only the Municipal Structures Act (MSA) was discussed.

The MSA clearly sets out four separate and independent actions in the process of establishing new municipalities. These independent actions are as follows :


- The Minister is to identify metropolitan areas, and in terms of S5 of the

MSB identified five metropolitan areas (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and East Rand)


- The Demarcation Board is to redraw boundaries of municipalities, this is to be completed by end of March 2000.


- The Provinces are to establish and determine the actual type, council

size, assets, staff, by-laws etc.


- IEC to administer local elections

Categories of Municipalities

Part One of the MSA provides for categories of municipalities to be established. There are essentially three types of categories:

  • Category A Municipality
  • Metropolitans - These will exist only in conurbations and will be single tier municipalities that have power for the entire area.

All areas not falling in to category 'A' must have municipalities of both the other two types - 'B' and 'C'.

  • Category B Municipality

- local councils - these are the smallest unit of both executive and legislative power for an area but must share this power with the district (category C) municipality into which they fall.

  • Category C Municipality

- district councils - these will be areas of more than one local ('B') municipality meaning a two tier system of power will exist. District councils will be crucial in allowing for, (i) one integrated development plan that will coordinate and facilitate for development of the whole area, (ii) organizing 'bulk' services for an entire area and (iii) building the capacity of local councils.

Category A Municipality / Metropolitan Government

The Metropolitan "Unicity" model is to be a single municipality, as a single employer body, with full municipal powers for the whole metropolitan area.

There will be three basic trends with respect to the way the metropolitan government is to be organised.

  1. The Metro council and Executive Committee perform city-wide governance functions
  2. A move towards having the main infrastructure services corporatised into metro-wide utilities; for example, waste collection and water supply.
  3. Trend where the Metro Council decentralises certain functions to Metro Sub-councils; for example, specific parks and amenities.

District Council Functions

The Act creates a fundamental change and significant reshaping of council functions as it presently exists and in effect strengthens bulk services of municipalities such as sewerage, electricity and water. Some of the functions of the District councils will include the regulation of district roads, health, waste sites, fire services and local tourism but to mention a few.

Division of powers

This is captured in Chapter Five of the MSA, which provides that the:

- MEC may reallocate powers between districts and local councils after

consultation with the Demarcation Board

- MEC monitors progress of the local councils and, as capacity develops, assign functions to it that were previously undertaken by the district council

- MEC may circumscribe powers of district or local councils if there are disputes

- District and local councils can render functions on behalf of each other


Provincial Establishment proclamations

In the provinces the duty is placed on the MECs to map out the:

- category

- type

- size of council

- exemptions from Act

- name

- staff, assets, liabilities and by-laws.

It is these proclamations that are crucial to the nature of a municipality. Therefore as it is the Provinces that make the proclamations and hence choose the form of local government (something not required by the constitution), the DDG suggested that the MSA actually increases the role of provinces in local government.

Types of Municipalities

This is based on systems of local governance and is a combination of executive systems and systems of participatory mechanisms. Three Executive options are available:

  1. The Executive Committee
  • This would reflect existing executive municipality committees.
  • the council would delegate power to a committee who would share executive power. A Mayor would be appointed but would act merely as a Chair, power would remain equally shared within the executive committee.
  1. The Executive Mayor
  • This would act like a small scale presidential system.
  • The council would delegate power to one individual - the Mayor. The Mayor would then appoint a cabinet/committee to whom power could be delegated to. Each individual within this cabinet would then effectively hold responsibility for one aspect of council affairs.

3. Plenary Type

  • This would exist in areas that are too small or have too limited power to have an executive committee or mayor.
  • No process of delegation would occur and the council as a whole would have legislative and executive powers.
  • A chairperson would be appointed and could nominally be called a Mayor.

Within these three executive structures there are then ward committee and sub-council options.

Functions of the Executive

These functions include the following :

  • identify community needs
  • develop Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) to develop needs
  • compile estimates of revenue and expenditure
  • determine delivery mechanisms
  • monitor progress through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • monitor management of municipalities

Traditional Leaders

The Act puts in place a co-operative model, which gives traditional leaders the right to be consulted on matters that affect development in their areas. They are entitled to participate in affairs of council, but do not have voting rights in the council. The MECs are to regulate the role played by the traditional leaders.


Local councils and metropolitans

The Act provides for a combined system, which will benefit smaller parties whilst ensuring councillors have strong ties with the local community. The system caters for 50% ward councillors and 50% proportionally represented (PR) 'top-up' councillors. The ward councillors are elected directly from the wards but the PR councillors are elected through a separate PR vote that factors in votes cast for ward candidates.

District Councils

Will consist of 60% indirectly elected councillors appointed by local municipalities and 40% directly elected councillors from district residents' votes for parties. ( So whilst metropolitian inhabitants will have only two votes those living within districts will have three.)

Questions from Members

NNP member : What are the time frames and are you going to stick to these time frames?

Dr Olver: My very best guess is that a minimum of five months is required for elections to be geared up and prepared and therefore the very latest date would be end of January. We should have the Provincial Proclamation ready by May 2000 and demarcation should be finish by end of March 2000.

Mr J Selfe (DP) : Could the department give an estimate of costs of restructuring metropolitan areas and whether the government will financially

support municipalities?

Dr Olver: The view is that restructuring will bring a net saving to metropolitans. It is not possible to give any quantification as boundaries are not certain yet.

Ms M Verwoerd (ANC) : What is happening at the moment is that municipalities are expanding instead of reducing staff. Firstly, how do you control this from happening? Secondly, could you give some detail about transitional periods?

Dr Olver: We have also been concerned about the expansion of staff. The metros have been requested to put transitional mechanisms in place where boundaries are very much certain. Furthermore the "Unicity" project is a process and cannot come into play at one moment, therefore time must be allowed for a gradual transition.

Mr J Kgarimetsa (ANC) : You have mentioned the recognition of traditional leaders in the Act. What is the position of private landowners, specifically farmers, are they not allowed to participate in the council?

Dr Olver: The role of farmers has not been given special recognition , but this does not mean that they must be ignored. Traditional leaders stand in a special position, as they are not just landowners, but play a very important role as custodian of customs of their communities and act in important conflicts in their communities. It is clear that in a vast majority of areas, where these leaders enjoy strong support, one cannot talk about rural development and not include them.

Since there were no further questions the meeting was closed.


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