City of Cape Town

Coordinates: 34°0′S 18°30′E / 34.000°S 18.500°E / -34.000; 18.500
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City of Cape Town
Stad Kaapstad (Afrikaans)
IsiXeko saseKapa (Xhosa)
City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality
Official logo of City of Cape Town
The City of Cape Town is located in the south-western corner of the Western Cape province.
Location in the Western Cape
Coordinates: 34°0′S 18°30′E / 34.000°S 18.500°E / -34.000; 18.500
CountrySouth Africa
ProvinceWestern Cape
SeatCape Town
 • TypeMunicipal council
 • MayorGeordin Hill-Lewis (DA)
 • Deputy MayorEddie Andrews (DA)
 • Total2,445 km2 (944 sq mi)
 • Estimate 
4,005,016 (metro)[2]
Racial makeup (2022)
 • Black African45.7%
 • Coloured35.1%
 • Indian/Asian1.6 %
 • White16 %
First languages (2022)
 • Afrikaans35.1%
 • Xhosa45.7%
 • English20.4%
 • Other6.1%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Municipal codeCPT

The City of Cape Town (Afrikaans: Stad Kaapstad; Xhosa: IsiXeko saseKapa) is a metropolitan municipality that forms the local government of Cape Town and surrounding areas. As of the 2016 community survey, it had a population of 4,005,016.[4]


Cape Town first received local self-government in 1839, with the promulgation of a municipal ordinance by the government of the Cape Colony.[5] When it was created, the Cape Town municipality governed only the central part of the city known as the City Bowl, and as the city expanded, new suburbs became new municipalities, until by 1902 there were 10 separate municipalities in the Cape Peninsula.[6] During the 20th century, many of the inner suburban municipalities became unsustainable; in 1913 the first major unification took place when the municipalities of Cape Town, Green Point and Sea Point, Woodstock, Mowbray, Rondebosch, Claremont, Maitland, and Kalk Bay were unified to create the first City of Cape Town. In 1927 the municipality of Wynberg was also merged with Cape Town, with the result that all of the Southern Suburbs were incorporated into the City.

Many new municipalities were established during the 20th century. Durbanville achieved municipal status in 1901, Goodwood in 1938, Parow in 1939, Bellville and Fish Hoek in 1940, Pinelands in 1948, Kuils River in 1950, Milnerton in 1955, Kraaifontein in 1957, Gordon's Bay in 1961, Brackenfell in 1970.[7] In 1979 Bellville was upgraded to city status. The areas not included in a municipality were governed by divisional councils. Most of the Cape metropolitan area fell under the Divisional Council of the Cape, while the eastern parts around Brackenfell, Kuils River and the Helderberg area formed part of the Divisional Council of Stellenbosch, and an area in the northeast around Kraaifontein formed part of the Divisional Council of Paarl.

In earlier years the right to vote in local elections was not restricted by race (see Cape Qualified Franchise), but the policies of the apartheid government aimed for complete segregation of local government. A 1962 amendment to the Group Areas Act introduced management committees for the areas designated for coloured and Indian residents. These management committees were subordinate to the existing local authority—either a municipality or the divisional council. From 1972 no new non-white voters could be registered as voters for municipal or divisional councils, and existing non-white voters lost their voting rights when a management committee was established for the area where they lived.

In 1982 the Black Local Authorities Act created elected town councils for black communities. Five such councils were established in the Cape metropolitan areas. They were generally regarded as under-resourced and unsustainable, and were opposed by the United Democratic Front and other civic organisations. Turnout in BLA elections was very low.

In 1987 the divisional councils of the Cape, Paarl and Stellenbosch were dissolved and the Western Cape Regional Services Council (RSC) was created in their place. The RSC councils were indirectly elected, consisting of representatives nominated by all the local authorities within its area, including municipalities, management committees and town councils. The Cape Rural Council represented the rural areas of the RSC that were not included in any local authority. Also in 1987, an act of the House of Assembly allowed the creation of local councils for white communities in peri-urban areas.

Thus at the end of apartheid in 1994, there were over 50 different local authorities in existence in the metropolitan area, listed below.[8]

As part of the post-1994 reforms, municipal government experienced a complete overhaul. The existing local authorities, political parties, ratepayers' organisations, and community organisations were brought together into a negotiating forum. This forum agreed on the creation of a two-level local government system consisting of multiple transitional metropolitan substructures (TMSs), brought together in a transitional metropolitan council named the Cape Metropolitan Council (CMC). The CMC would replace the Regional Services Council and take over its responsibilities; it would also be responsible for metro-level planning and co-ordination, improving service delivery in disadvantaged areas, and cross-subsidization of poorer areas with revenue from affluent areas. Initially, in a period called the "pre-interim phase", the existing local authorities would become TMSs but their councils would be replaced by councillors nominated by the members of the negotiating forum. This agreement came into effect, and the pre-interim phase began, on 1 February 1995.

The second phase of the transformation, known as the "interim phase" began on 29 May 1996 when local elections were held. The pre-interim TMSs were dissolved, and six new TMSs were established covering the whole metropolitan area: City of Cape Town (Central), City of Tygerberg, South Peninsula Municipality, Blaauwberg Municipality, Oostenberg Municipality, and Helderberg Municipality. The Cape Metropolitan Council continued with its coordinating functions.

In 1998 Parliament enacted legislation (the Municipal Structures Act) determining the final form of local government in post-apartheid South Africa. This legislation determined that metropolitan areas would be governed by unified metropolitan municipalities. Local elections were held on 5 December 2000; the Cape Metropolitan Council and the six interim TMSs were dissolved and replaced by the unified City of Cape Town. It is for this reason that the City of Cape Town is sometimes referred to as the "Unicity".[9] At the time of the 2000 election the northern boundary of the metropolitan area was also extended to include Philadelphia, Klipheuwel, and the surrounding farmland.

The current municipality covers Cape Point in the south-west, Gordon's Bay in the south-east, and Atlantis in the north, and includes Robben Island. The remote Prince Edward Islands are deemed to be part of the City of Cape Town, specifically of ward 115.

Politics and government[edit]


Cape Town is governed by a 231-member city council elected in a system of mixed-member proportional representation. The city is divided into 116 wards, each of which elects a councillor by first-past-the-post voting. The remaining 115 councillors are elected from party lists so that the total number of councillors for each party is proportional to the number of votes received by that party.

The makeup of the council after the 2021 election is shown in the following table.[10][11]

Party Ward PR list Total Percentage of council seats
Democratic Alliance 83 52 135 58.4%
African National Congress 33 10 43 18.6%
Economic Freedom Fighters 0 10 10 4.3%
Good 0 9 9 3.9%
Cape Coloured Congress 0 7 7 3.0%
African Christian Democratic Party 0 6 6 2.6%
Freedom Front Plus 0 4 4 1.7%
Patriotic Alliance 0 4 4 1.7%
Al Jama-ah 0 3 3 1.3%
Cape Independence Party 0 2 2 0.9%
Africa Restoration Alliance 0 2 2 0.9%
United Independent Movement 0 1 1 0.4%
Cape Muslim Congress 0 1 1 0.4%
United Democratic Movement 0 1 1 0.4%
African Independent Congress 0 1 1 0.4%
Pan Africanist Congress of Azania 0 1 1 0.4%
Democratic Independent Party 0 1 1 0.4%
Total 116 115 231 100.0%

The speaker of the council is Felicity Purchase of the Democratic Alliance.[12]

The council is divided into 24 subcouncils which deal with local functions for between three and six wards. A subcouncil consists of the ward councillors and a similar number of proportionally-elected councillors assigned to the subcouncil.[13] A subcouncil is chaired by one of the councillors and appoints a manager to run its day-to-day business. A subcouncil does not have any inherent responsibilities in law, but it is entitled to make recommendations to the City Council about anything that affects its area. The City Council may also delegate responsibilities to the subcouncils.[14]


The executive authority for the city is vested in an Executive Mayor who is elected by the council. The mayor appoints a mayoral committee whose members oversee various portfolios. A City Manager is appointed as the non-political head of the city's administration.

With the Democratic Alliance (DA) having won an absolute majority of council seats in the election of 1 November 2021, its mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis, who had been a Member of Parliament since 2011, was elected.[15]

The Mayoral Committee consists of 10 members who are appointed by the Executive Mayor. Each member manages a different area of the local government.

The current city manager is Lungelo Mbandazayo. He had been the acting city manager since the former city manager Achmat Ebrahim, who was appointed in April 2006, resigned in January 2018 amid misconduct allegations. He was formally appointed city manager in April 2018.[16]

The local municipality was one of the four to have passed the 2009-10 audit by the Auditor-General of South Africa, who deemed it to have a clean administration.[17]

Electoral history[edit]

Helen Zille, former mayor of the City of Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality in its present form took shape after the 2000 municipal elections. The old Central Cape Town MLC council had been governed by the New National Party (NNP), but they were losing support to the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Party (DP). Fearing further losses, the NNP agreed to contest the upcoming local election in December 2000 together with the DP by forming the Democratic Alliance (DA), with DP and NNP members running as DA candidates. The DA won Cape Town with an outright majority, and Peter Marais, also a senior member of the provincial NNP, became mayor of the unicity. However, DA leader Tony Leon's attempt to remove Marais from his position in 2001 caused the disintegration of the alliance, and NNP came to ally with the ANC. Marais was replaced as mayor by Gerald Morkel, but Morkel was himself soon ousted during the October 2002 local floor crossing period after a large number of DA councillors had defected to the NNP. Nomaindia Mfeketo of the ANC became mayor supported by an ANC-NNP coalition. In 2004, after a dismal showing in the general elections that year, the NNP prepared for dissolution and merger with the ANC, and most of its councillors joined the governing party. This gave the ANC an outright majority on the council, which lasted until the next election.

In the 2006 local government election, the DA was the largest single party, ahead of the ANC, but with no party holding a majority. The new Independent Democrats (ID) led by Patricia de Lille was in third place.[18] The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) initiated negotiations with five other smaller parties who together formed a kingmaker block of fifteen councillors, collectively known as the Multi-Party Forum parties. Despite the ID voting with the ANC, Helen Zille of the DA was elected executive mayor on 15 March 2006 by a very narrow margin with the support of the Multi-Party Forum. Andrew Arnolds of the ACDP was elected executive deputy mayor and Jacob "Dirk" Smit of the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) was elected speaker. The initially fragile position of this new DA-led coalition, also known as the Multi-Party Government, was improved in January 2007 with the introduction of the ID following the expulsion of the small Africa Muslim Party for conspiring with the ANC. As a result of the ID's support, the coalition significantly increased its majority, resulting in a much more stable city government. The ID's Charlotte Williams became executive deputy mayor. However, she resigned just a few months later, and the post then went to Grant Haskin of the ACDP in late 2007.[19] The DA would also bolster its position through by-election victories and floor crossing defections. With the ID and DA together holding a firm council majority, several of the smaller coalition partners were dropped from the city government by the time of the 2009 general elections, including the ACDP and FF+. The DA's Ian Neilson became deputy mayor, while Dirk Smit, who had defected to the DA, retained the position of speaker. Helen Zille left the mayorship the same year to take up the position of premier of the Western Cape, and Dan Plato became mayor.

In 2010, the DA and ID formalized an agreement in which the ID would merge into the DA by 2014. This was prompted in part by the ID's disappointing result in the 2009 general election. As per the agreement, ID ceased to exist at the local level after the 2011 municipal elections with ID members running as DA candidates. DA won a large outright majority in the election, and ID leader Patricia de Lille, who had defeated Plato in an earlier internal election, became the new mayor. The party extended its lead even further to win a two-thirds majority of the seats on the City of Cape Town council in the 2016 municipal elections, and De Lille was thus sworn in to serve a second term. It was however cut short following her resignation on 31 October 2018 after an extended battle with her party over accusations of covering up corruption, accusations she strongly denied. The previous mayor Dan Plato was chosen as her successor.

The DA's Geordin Hill-Lewis was voted in as mayor after the 2021 local government elections.[15] The following table shows the results of the 2021 election.[20][10][21]

Democratic Alliance525,51557.7883536,57158.7452135
African National Congress167,90718.4633170,91118.711043
Economic Freedom Fighters37,2554.10037,9134.151010
Cape Coloured Congress25,2572.78025,8542.8377
African Christian Democratic Party21,7912.40020,8862.2966
Freedom Front Plus14,8251.63014,0251.5444
Patriotic Alliance13,9671.54013,1021.4344
Al Jama-ah11,9641.32010,8301.1933
Africa Restoration Alliance7,3650.8105,8560.6422
Cape Independence Party5,8760.6505,6970.6222
United Independent Movement5,2500.5805,1160.5611
Independent candidates9,9101.0900
Cape Muslim Congress3,2390.3603,3550.3711
United Democratic Movement2,4770.2703,1050.3411
African Independent Congress2,8610.3102,5960.2811
Pan Africanist Congress of Azania1,8210.2002,7290.3011
Democratic Independent Party1,9100.2101,6530.1811
36 other parties14,4731.59019,5892.1400
Valid votes909,50998.86913,44498.85
Invalid/blank votes10,4851.1410,6651.15
Total votes919,994100.00924,109100.00
Registered voters/turnout1,973,70846.611,973,70846.82

By-elections from November 2021[edit]

The following by-elections were held to fill vacant ward seats in the period since the election in November 2021.[22]

Date Ward Party of the previous councillor Party of the newly elected councillor
13 October 2022[23] 5 Democratic Alliance Democratic Alliance


Group 2001 Census Proportion of population 2011 Census Proportion of population Change Change in proportion of population
Coloured 1,391,859 48.12% 1,585,286 42.39% 193,427 Increase 5.73% Decrease
Black African 916,459 31.69% 1,444,939 38.63% 528,480 Increase 6.94% Increase
White 542,435 18.75% 585,831 15.66% 43,396 Increase 3.09% Decrease
Indian or Asian 41,490 1.43% 51,786 1.38% 10,296 Increase 0.05% Decrease
Other n/a 72,184 1.93% n/a Steady n/a Steady
Total population 2,892,243 100.00% 3,740,026 100.00% 847,783 Increase


The municipality has a total area of 2455 km2.[24]

Subdivision varies according to purpose. Main places for census purposes may differ from planning districts.[25][26]

Main places[edit]

The 2001 census divided the municipality into the following main places:[27]

Place Code Population Most spoken language
Atlantis 17101 53,820 Afrikaans
Bellville 17102 89,732 Afrikaans
Blue Downs 17103 150,431 Afrikaans
Brackenfell 17104 78,005 Afrikaans
Briza 17105 1,959 English
Cape Town 17106 827,218 Afrikaans
Crossroads 17108 31,527 Xhosa
Dunoon 17109 9,045 Xhosa
Durbanville 17110 40,135 Afrikaans
Eerste River 17111 29,682 Afrikaans
Elsie's River 17112 86,685 Afrikaans
Excelsior 17113 189 Afrikaans
Fisantekraal 17114 4,646 Afrikaans
Fish Hoek 17115 15,851 English
Goodwood 17116 48,128 English
Gordons Bay 17117 2,751 Afrikaans
Guguletu 17118 80,277 Xhosa
Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve 17119 18 Xhosa
Hout Bay 17120 13,253 English
Imizamo Yethu 17121 8,063 Xhosa
Joe Slovo Park 17122 4,567 Xhosa
Khayelitsha 17123 329,002 Xhosa
Kraaifontein 17124 57,911 Afrikaans
Kuilsriver 17125 44,780 Afrikaans
Langa 17126 49,667 Xhosa
Lekkerwater 17127 1,410 Xhosa
Lwandle 17128 9,311 Xhosa
Mamre 17129 7,276 Afrikaans
Masiphumelele 17130 8,249 Xhosa
Melkbosstrand 17131 6,522 Afrikaans
Mfuleni 17132 22,883 Xhosa
Milnerton 17133 81,366 English
Mitchell's Plain 17134 398,650 Afrikaans
Nomzamo 17135 22,083 Xhosa
Noordhoek 17136 3,127 English
Nyanga 17137 58,723 Xhosa
Parow 17138 77,439 Afrikaans
Pella 17139 1,044 Afrikaans
Robben Island 17140 176 Afrikaans
Scarborough 17141 723 English
Simon's Town 17142 7,210 English
Sir Lowry's Pass Village 17143 5,766 Afrikaans
Somerset West 17144 60,606 Afrikaans
Strand 17145 46,446 Afrikaans
Witsand 17146 2,405 Xhosa
Remainder of the municipality 17107 14,498 Afrikaans

Planning districts[edit]

The planning districts are:[25]

  • Blaauwberg, which includes subdistricts: Atlantis, Blouberg, Mamre, Melkboschstrand, Table View, and parts of Cape Farms, Goodwood, Milnerton, and Maitland.
  • Cape Flats, which includes subdistricts: Athlone, False Bay Coastal Park, Grassy Park, Guguletu, Hanover Park, Manenberg, Ottery, Pelican Park, and parts of Muizenberg, Retreat, and Rondebosch.
  • Helderberg, which includes subdistricts: Gordon's Bay, Macassar, Sir Lowry's Pass, Somerset West, Stellenbosch Farms and Strand.
  • Khayelitsha/Mitchells Plain, which includes subdistricts: Blackheath, Blue Downs, Eerste River, Khayelitsha, Mitchell's Plain, and part of Guguletu
  • Northern, which includes subdistricts: Brackenfell, Durbanville, Eversdal, Joostenbergvlakte, Kenridge, Kraaifontein, Malmesbury Farms, Vredekloof, and Welgemoed.
  • Southern, which includes subdistricts: Bergvliet, Cape Point, Constantia, Fish Hoek, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Newlands, Noordhoek, Ocean View, Plumstead, Simon's Town, Tokai, Wynberg, parts of Muizenberg, Retreat, Rondebosch, and Table Mountain.
  • Table Bay, which includes subdistricts: Camps Bay, Cape Town, Observatory, Pinelands, Robben Island, Sea Point, Signal Hill/Lion's Head, and parts of Epping, Goodwood, Langa, Maitland, and Table Mountain,
  • Tygerberg, which includes subdistricts: Airport, Bellville, Bishop Lavis, Delft, Elsies River, Kalsteenfontein, Kuils River, Parow, Plattekloof, and parts of Epping, Goodwood, and Milnerton.

Adjacent municipalities[edit]

The City of Cape Town is also bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact list: Executive Mayors". Government Communication & Information System. Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  2. ^ Community Survey 2016: Provincial profile: Western Cape (PDF) (Report). Statistics South Africa. 2018. p. 7.
  3. ^ a b "Statistics by place". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  4. ^ Community Survey 2016: Provincial profile: Western Cape (PDF) (Report). Statistics South Africa. 2018. p. 7.
  5. ^ Worden, Nigel; van Heyningen, Elizabeth; Bickford-Smith, Vivian (1998). Cape Town: The Making of a City. Uitgeverij Verloren. pp. 171–177. ISBN 90-6550-161-4.
  6. ^ Worden, Nigel; van Heyningen, Elizabeth; Bickford-Smith, Vivian (1998). Cape Town: The Making of a City. Uitgeverij Verloren. pp. 221–223. ISBN 90-6550-161-4.
  7. ^ Raper, Peter E; Möller, Lucie A; du Plessis, L Theodorus (2014). Dictionary of Southern African Place Names (4th ed.). Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball. ISBN 978-1-868425-49-5.
  8. ^ The Cape Metropolitan Enactment, 1995 (Western Cape Proclamation No. 18 of 1995, published in Provincial Gazette No. 4929 on 6 February 1995) lists 59 local authorities dissolved on the creation of the Cape Metropolitan Council and the transitional metropolitan substructures.
  9. ^ "City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality". (Local Government Business Network). Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Seat Calculation Detail: City of Cape Town" (PDF). IEC. Electoral Commission of South Africa. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  11. ^ Staff Reporter. "Vote recount: Cape Independence Party gets another seat in Metro". Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  12. ^ Charles, Marvin. "City of Cape Town council elects Felicity Purchase as new Speaker". News24. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  13. ^ Cape Town Sub-council By-law, 2003, as amended.
  14. ^ "Subcouncils". City of Cape Town. Archived from the original on 13 June 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
  15. ^ a b "WATCH: Geordin Hill-Lewis officially becomes Cape Town's youngest mayor after council vote". Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  16. ^ "City of Cape Town announces new city manager | News24". Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Auditor-General urges South Africa's mayors to lead the drive towards clean administration by 2014". Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Seat Calculation Summary: City of Cape Town" (PDF). Independent Electoral Commission. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2006.
  19. ^ "Cllr. Grant Haskin elected as deputy executive mayor". City of Cape Town. 31 October 2007. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Results Summary – All Ballots: City of Cape Town" (PDF). Electoral Commission of South Africa. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  21. ^ "Voter Turnout Report: City of Cape Town" (PDF). Electoral Commission of South Africa. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  22. ^ "Municipal By-elections results". Electoral Commission of South Africa. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  23. ^ Sussman, Wayne (13 October 2022). "OCTOBER BY-ELECTIONS: DA doctor beats mayor Farmer in Cederberg, while IFP flips the script in southern KwaZulu-Natal". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  24. ^ "City of Cape Town". Municipal Demarcation Board. Retrieved 19 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ a b "Find your District: Planning District Boundaries" (PDF). Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  26. ^ "Cape Town: 2011 Census Suburbs (map)" (PDF). Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  27. ^ Lookup Tables - Statistics South Africa[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]