Metropolitan municipality (South Africa)

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In South Africa, a metropolitan municipality or Category A municipality is a municipality which executes all the functions of local government for a city or conurbation. This is by contrast to areas which are primarily rural, where the local government is divided into district municipalities and local municipalities.

The Constitution, section 155.1.a, defines "Category A" municipalities.[1] In the Municipal Structures Act it is laid out that this type of local government is to be used for conurbations, "centre[s] of economic activity", areas "for which integrated development planning is desirable", and areas with "strong interdependent social and economic linkages".[2]

The metropolitan municipality is similar to the consolidated city-county in the US, although a South African metropolitan municipality is created by notice of the provincial government, not by agreement between district and local municipalities.


Metropolitan municipalities were brought about during reforms of the 1990s so that cities could be governed as single entities.[3] For example, eThekwini (including Durban) is today a single municipality formed from what were more than 40 separate jurisdictions before 1994.[4]

This reform process was a response to the way in which apartheid policy had broken up municipal governance. For example, Soweto had, until 1973, been administered by the Johannesburg City Council, but after 1973 was run by an Administration Board separate from the city council. This arrangement deprived Soweto of vital subsidies that it had been receiving from Johannesburg.[5] A key demand of anti-apartheid civics in the 1980s was for 'one city, one tax base' in order to facilitate the equitable distribution of funds within what was a functionally integrated urban space.[6]

Local government reform after apartheid produced six Transitional Metropolitan Councils following the 1995/6 local government elections. These were characterized by a two-tier structure.[7][8] From 2000, these six Metropolitan Councils were restructured into their final single-tier form. In 2011, Buffalo City (including East London) and Mangaung (including Bloemfontein) were added to the category of metropolitan municipality.[9]

List of metropolitan municipalities[edit]

Name Code Province Seat Area
Pop. density
(per km2)
Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality BUF Eastern Cape East London 2,750 834,997 303.6
City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality CPT Western Cape Cape Town 2,446 4,005,016 1,637.6
City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality JHB Gauteng Johannesburg 1,645 4,949,347 3,008.8
City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality TSH Gauteng Pretoria 6,298 3,275,152 520.0
City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality[12] EKU Gauteng Germiston 1,975 3,379,104 1,710.6
eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality ETH KwaZulu-Natal Durban 2,556 3,702,231 1,448.5
Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality MAN Free State Bloemfontein 9,886 787,803 79.7
Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality NMA Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth 1,957 1,263,051 645.4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Welcome to the official South African government online site! - South African Government". Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Welcome to the official South African government online site! - South African Government". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  3. ^ Mabin, Alan (2006) Local government in South Africa’s larger cities. In U. Pillay, R. Tomlinson, & J. du Toit (Eds.) Democracy and delivery: urban policy in South Africa (pp. 135-156). Cape Town: HSRC.
  4. ^ Freund, Bill (1 August 2010). "Is There Such a Thing as a Post-apartheid City?". Urban Forum. 21 (3): 283–298. doi:10.1007/s12132-010-9087-4. ISSN 1874-6330. S2CID 154026546.
  5. ^ Parnell, Susan and Gordon Pirie (1991) Johannesburg. In Anthony Lemon (eds) Homes apart: South Africa’s segregated cities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press pp 129-145
  6. ^ Mark Swilling, Richard Humphries and Khehal Shubane (eds) Apartheid city in Transition. Cape Town: Oxford University Press
  7. ^ van Donk, Mirjam and Edgar Pieterse (2006) 'Reflections on the design of a post-apartheid system of (urban) local government' in Udesh Pillay; Richard Tomlinson; Jacques du Toit (eds.) Democracy and Delivery: Urban Policy in South Africa. Cape Town HSRC Press
  8. ^ Cameron, Robert (2006) Local government boundary reorganization. In Udesh Pillay, Richard Tomlinson, Jacques du Toit (eds.) Democracy and Delivery: Urban Policy in South Africa. Cape Town HSRC Press pp 76-106
  9. ^ Lynelle John; Landiwe Mahlangu (21 June 2011). "Metros in SA: Debate on national policy choices". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Shapefiles Statistics". Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Statistics". Archived from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  12. ^ "AMENDMENT OF NOTICE ESTABLISHING THE EKURHULENI METROPOLITAN MUNICIPALITY (NOTICE NO. 3585 OF 2005)". Archived from the original on 16 July 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.

Other sources[edit]