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The functions of municipalities in South Africa

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The functions of municipalities in South Africa

The Government of South Africa consists of three different divisions:National, Provincial and Local. Each division has a specific set of rights and power assigned to themand has different people in charge to which they report.

Municipalities are assigned to a certain districts and are governed by a City Council and each district has a Mayor and mayoral committee residing over the district. This committee need to approve by-laws and policies for the district are responsible for the smooth running and administration of the district municipality.

The municipalities of South Africa are divided into three categories: The Metropolitan Municipality, Local Municipalities and District Municipalities. Each of these has their own unique area over which they reside and need to co-ordinate the services for their designated areas.

Metropolitan Municipalities are in charge of the six biggest metropolitan cities in South Africa and need to co-ordinate the services provided for that area. Local Municipalities are the areas that are not covered by metropolitan municipalities and District Municipalities are made up of a few local municipalities that fall in the same district.


The main functions of any kind of municipality are development and service delivery. Each district has to submit an annual budget for the financial year ahead and submit plans on their intended development projects. They are in charge of submitting proposed legislation to parliament if it is needed to effectively implement their plans.

Development of rural and urban areas is necessary to achieve communities that are self-efficient and sustainable. They need to be able to utilise their resources have sufficient links to other communities.

The main development areas that municipalities are faced with are land development, roads and infrastructure. They are involved in all aspects of city planning. South African municipalities have the task of bringing together communities that were previously separated. They need to make the resources and services available to everybody.

Service delivery

Service delivery to each town and area is vital to ensure efficiency of the town. It is necessary for health reasons and to promote a positive image of towns and suburbs.

The main areas of service delivery are sanitation, infrastructure, health, tourism and education.

Sanitation includes refuse removal, sewage and septic tanks and storm water systems. Health services are clinics to provide state funded medical care and government hospitals. Educational services are distributing school material to the various government schools and library services.

For tourism aspects, the district municipalities need to be in charge of national parks and recreational areas. They need to promote tourism and be able to assure safety and health of tourists.

Safety services in the municipal jurisdiction will include police services and visible policing in suburbs. They are also in charge of fire fighting technology and services.

All municipalities are responsible for even distribution of water and electricity to all households. They need to efficiently run the administration and accounting of this electricity and water.

Fuel prices in South Africa include a levy that is applied to road maintenance. Municipalities are in charge of not only road development and maintenance; they also incorporate and maintain tollgates and fees to assist with road maintenance.

Municipalities are therefore overall in charge of the smooth running of their indicated areas.

29 Aug 2012
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