Emfuleni Local Municipality

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Official seal of Emfuleni
Location of Emfuleni Local Municipality within Gauteng
Location of Emfuleni Local Municipality within Gauteng
Coordinates: 26°40′S 27°45′E / 26.667°S 27.750°E / -26.667; 27.750Coordinates: 26°40′S 27°45′E / 26.667°S 27.750°E / -26.667; 27.750
CountrySouth Africa
 • TypeMunicipal council
 • MayorJacob Khawe
 • Total966 km2 (373 sq mi)
 • Total721,663
 • Density750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African85.4%
 • Coloured1.2%
 • Indian/Asian1.0%
 • White12.0%
First languages (2011)
 • Sotho52.5%
 • Zulu13.1%
 • Afrikaans12.5%
 • Xhosa7.8%
 • Other14.1%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Municipal codeGT421

The Emfuleni Local Municipality, founded in 1999, is one of three local municipalities comprising the Sedibeng District[3] in Gauteng, South Africa. It is the westernmost local municipality in the District, and covers an area of 987 km² at the heart of the Vaal Triangle.[4] It is located in the former industrial heartland of Gauteng which created employment and wealth for Sebokeng, Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging and Sharpeville.[5] Its head offices are located in Frikkie Havenga Blvd, Vanderbijlpark.[6]

Emfuleni is experiencing a financial crisis since 2018,[5] and as of 2020 it is considered a "broken" municipality which has lost the ability to rectify or recover from its many failed enterprises.[7] It has been plagued by service delivery protests,[8] and in 2020 its residents started a #EmfuleniMustFall campaign on social media due to its inconsistent or completely lacking waste removal, collapse of the electricity distribution network, ineffective provision of water and sanitation and its failure to maintain its roads infrastructure.[9][10] Jacob Khawe replaced Simon Mofokeng as mayor in 2018 and acknowledged wasteful practices. He declared his commitment to a turnaround,[8] but resigned six months later when the municipality was placed under semi-administration.[11][12] Lucky Leaseane replaced Oupa Nkoane as municipal manager in February 2020, but was dismissed in September 2020.[13]

Local history[edit]

The Emfuleni Local Municipality is rich in history: it encapsulates the Anglo-Boer War, the Sharpeville Massacre[14] of 1960, and the 1996 signing of the Constitution of South Africa in Sharpeville.


It shares boundaries with Metsimaholo Local Municipality in the Free State to the south, Midvaal Local Municipality to the east, the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality to the north and Westonaria and Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) Municipalities to the west. The municipality is strategically located with access to a well-maintained road network – e.g. the N1 national route. The Vaal River forms the southern boundary of the municipality; its strategic location affords it many opportunities for tourism and other forms of economic development.

Urban centres and industry[edit]

Emfuleni is a largely urbanised municipality, with a high population density compared to other municipalities making up the Sedibeng District. In fact, the municipality houses around 80% of the district's total population. The municipality forms the heartland of what was formerly known as the Vaal Triangle, renowned for its contribution to the iron and steel industry in South Africa. The two main town centres are Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark. Sasolburg is 10 kilometers to the south, across the provincial boundary.

There are a number of small settlements, mostly within approximately six kilometers of the above towns. They are Bonanne, Steelpark, Duncanville, Unitas Park, Sonland Park, Waldrift, Rust-ter-Vaal, Roshnee and Debonair Park. The area also comprises a number of large residential areas, all of which require considerable investment in infrastructure and environmental upgrading.

It also contains six large townships namely Evaton, Sebokeng,[15] Sharpeville, Boipatong, Bophelong and Tshepiso. These centers currently lack the facilities generally associated with towns of their size.


Emfuleni Municipality was placed under administration in June 2018.[16] OUTA believed that Emfuleni's service delivery had collapsed by 2018, and that the situation was causing human rights violations. It suggested that criminal enforcement action be taken to rectify its non-compliance as detailed in two directives and nine non-compliance notices.[5] The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) expressed the opinion in 2020 that Emfuleni is dysfunctional without any evidence of improvement, and that it displayed no dedicated efforts to serve the public.[17] The municipality conducted inefficient operations for years, accumulating unauthorized, irregular and wasteful expenses, while showing a disregard for laws and regulations, accompanied with poor oversight and consequence management. At the same time it displayed a lack of willingness to accept advice and cooperation in the form of public-private partnerships.[5][17] The DA recommended that the Emfuleni council be dissolved, as service delivery had collapsed.[16]

A 2018 High Court judgment allowed Eskom to seize R645 million worth of Emfuleni's fixed assets due to non-payment for electricity.[16] In 2021 members of the mayoral council (or MMCs) expressed their "surprise" when Eskom commenced with electricity disconnections in parts of Sebokeng and Evaton, and accused the utility of "putting the lives of councillors at risk".[18] The municipality's 2018/19 year-end balance sheet revealed irregular expenditure of R1.1 billion due to non-compliance with laws and regulations.[17] Its committee for public accounts did not investigate these irregular expenditures, nor was its senior manager held accountable, or 81 matters highlighted by the Auditor-General investigated.[17]

The DA pointed out that the municipality spent the exorbitant amount of R378 million on overtime payments during the 2015/2016 to 2019/2020 financial years, besides up to R10 million a month on travel claims[16] and excessive amounts on the salaries of two administrators[19] while it was facing a serious cash flow problem.[20] Its financial recovery plan was ineffective leaving it with a backlog of R586 million for the 2019/2020 financial year.[16] Its unserviced debt with Eskom (over R2.3 bn by 2020,[16] and R3.5 bn by 2021[18][21]) and Rand Water (some R1.1 bn[7]) prevented it from providing a reliable power and water supply,[20] which negatively affected its ability to collect levies and taxes. By 2020 it had failed to collect R8.6 billion in debt from its residents, and its own debt book reached R9.5 billion or 150% of its annual budget.[7] In 2020 Emfuleni halted attachment of its assets by committing to pay R50 million of its historic debt to Eskom, but in 2021 faced the prospect of forfeiting its electricity infrastructure and/or electricity revenue streams to service further unpaid Eskom debt to the value of R1.3 billion.[21]

Sewage spills and water leaks were the norm, and when an employee drowned at its wastewater treatment plant due to a lack of proper equipment, there was no follow-up.[17] Despite the R3 billion that was spent on local wastewater treatment plants between 2011 and 2018, these plants continued to discharge raw sewage into the Vaal River, Klip River and Riet Spruit.[5] Several suburbs, including Drie Riviere, Duncanville, Falcon Ridge and Sonland Park experienced power cuts which would last for days on end.[22] The installation of smart meters turned into a costly debacle when Emfuleni, due lack of planning and foresight, did not honour its 2013-2017 contract with supplier BXC.[23][24] Parts of the municipality were plunged into darkness without warning.[25]

Main places[edit]

The 2001 census divided the municipality into the following main places:[26]

Place Code Area (km2) Population Most spoken language
Boipatong 70401 1.62 16,867 Sotho
Bophelong 70402 5.97 37,782 Sotho
Evaton 70404 35.20 143,157 Sotho
Orange Farm 70405 3.79 16,720 Zulu
Sebokeng 70406 32.80 222,045 Sotho
Sharpeville 70407 5.04 41,032 Sotho
Tshepiso 70408 5.26 22,952 Sotho
Vanderbijlpark 70409 207.69 80,205 Afrikaans
Vereeniging 70410 191.33 73,283 Afrikaans
Remainder of the municipality 70403 498.77 4,378 Sotho


The municipal council consists of ninety members elected by mixed-member proportional representation. Forty-five councillors are elected by first-past-the-post voting in forty-five wards, while the remaining forty-five are chosen from party lists so that the total number of party representatives is proportional to the number of votes received. In the election of 3 August 2016 the African National Congress (ANC) won a majority of seats on the council.

The following table shows the results of the election.[27][28]

Party Votes Seats
Ward List Total % Ward List Total
African National Congress 108,435 109,030 217,465 55.6 37 13 50
Democratic Alliance 48,162 48,199 96,361 24.7 8 14 22
Economic Freedom Fighters 23,865 23,814 47,679 12.2 0 11 11
African Independent Congress 3,902 5,995 9,897 2.5 0 3 3
Freedom Front Plus 4,354 4,186 8,540 2.2 0 2 2
Pan Africanist Congress 1,857 1,517 3,374 0.9 0 1 1
Congress of the People 2,015 808 2,823 0.7 0 1 1
Others 2,692 2,090 4,782 1.2 0 0 0
Total 195,282 195,639 390,921 100.0 45 45 90
Spoilt votes 2,543 2,696 5,239


  1. ^ "Contact list: Executive Mayors". Government Communication & Information System. Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Statistics by place". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Sedibeng District Municipality", Wikipedia, 2019-11-27, retrieved 2019-12-25
  4. ^ "OVERVIEW: About Emfuleni". emfuleni.gov.za. Emfuleni Local Municipality. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Emfuleni is a human rights disaster". outa.co.za. OUTA. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  6. ^ Mantshantsh, Sikonathi (10 March 2020). "Emfuleni property attached over Eskom debt". enca.com. eNCA. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Verbeek, Peter (7 November 2020). "'Emfuleni is a 'broken' municipality' – Cllr Peter Verbeek". vaalweekblad.com. Vaalweekblad. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Emfuleni mayor admits to wasteful expenditure". enca.com. eNCA. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  9. ^ Staff Reporter (19 November 2020). "#EmfuleniMustFall is gaining momentum on social media". vaalweekblad.com. Vaalweekblad. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  10. ^ Put South africans first (9 November 2020). "Vaal is collapsing & @MYANC is doing nothing about it. #EmfuleniMustFall". twitter.com. Emfuleni for Change NPC, Re: Court application to intervene: Electricity crisis: Emfuleni Local Municipality ("ELM"). Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  11. ^ Mahlase, Mahlatse (4 June 2018). "Emfuleni mayor resigns after municipality placed under administration". news24.com. News24. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  12. ^ Bornmann, Jan (8 June 2018). "ANC says Emfuleni mayor back on the job". news24.com. News24. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  13. ^ Serero, Lerato (16 September 2020). "ELM suspends newly appointed Municipal Manager". vaalweekblad.com. Vaalweekblad. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Sharpeville massacre", Wikipedia, 2019-12-19, retrieved 2019-12-25
  15. ^ "Sebokeng", Wikipedia, 2019-12-25, retrieved 2019-12-25
  16. ^ a b c d e f Ndaba, Baldwin (16 March 2020). "Emfuleni officials claim R21m in travel costs in just two months". iol.co.za. IOL. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Geen hoop op herstel vir Emfuleni-munisipaliteit". maroelamedia.co.za. Maroela Media. 16 October 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  18. ^ a b Tlou, Gift (30 March 2021). "Emfuleni, which owes Eskom R3bn, wants power utility to stop with disconnections". iol.co.za. The Star. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  19. ^ "Byna R1 miljoen in 4 maande vir twee administrateurs". maroelamedia.co.za. Maroela Media. 29 November 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  20. ^ a b Serero, Lerato (November 2020). "ELM spends over R378 million on employees' overtime for the past five years". vaalweekblad.com. Vaalweekblad. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  21. ^ a b Khumalo, Sibongile (2 September 2021). "Eskom wins judgment against Emfuleni municipality over R1.3 billion debt". news24.com. fin24. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  22. ^ Cloete, Christiaan (17 November 2020). "Gedeeltes van Drie Riviere al 'n week sonder elektrisiteit". vaalweekblad.com. Vaalweekblad. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  23. ^ Digital team (11 August 2019). "What lies behind the problems with SmartMeters?". parysgazette.co.za. Parys Gazette. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  24. ^ Sedibeng Ster Team (21 August 2019). "Smart Meters: Emfuleni says it wants to 'set the record straight'". sedibengster.com. Sedibeng Ster. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  25. ^ Manyane, Manyane (25 August 2019). "Contract issues trip Emfuleni's lights". iol.co.za. IOL. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  26. ^ Lookup Tables - Statistics South Africa[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "Results Summary – All Ballots: Emfuleni" (PDF). Independent Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  28. ^ "Seat Calculation Detail: Emfuleni" (PDF). Independent Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 August 2016.

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