in South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
are a division of local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...
that lie one level down from provincial government
South Africa is currently divided into nine provinces. On the eve of the 1994 general election, South Africa's former homelands, also known as Bantustans, were reintegrated and the four existing provinces were divided into nine. The twelfth, thirteenth and sixteenth amendments to the constitution...
, forming the lowest level of democratically elected government structures in the country. The foundation for this layer of government is set out in Chapter 7 of the Constitution of South Africa
The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law of the country of South Africa. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the republic, sets out the rights and duties of its citizens, and defines the structure of the government. The current constitution, the country's fifth, was...
. Various Acts of Parliament have further defined these municipal structures since the inception of the current constitution. There are 279 municipalities in South Africa.
Municipalities can belong to one of three categories: metropolitan, district and local (referred to in the constitution as categories A, B and C).
Metropolitan (or category A) municipalities represent large densely urbanised regions that encompass multiple cities and so constitute a metropolis
A metropolis is a very large city or urban area which is a significant economic, political and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections and communications...
For example, the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality encompasses the city of Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...
and surrounding towns.
The Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area
The Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area is the name of the area surrounding the city of Johannesburg, in South Africa. It includes Johannesburg and the areas of the East Rand and West Rand. It is often referred to as the Witwatersrand, or Rand, after a low mountain range that runs through the...
is actually covered by three municipalities: the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, and the West Rand District Municipality
The West Rand District Municipality is one of the districts of Gauteng province of South Africa, that covers the West Rand area, with the exception of Roodepoort. The seat of the district municipality is Randfontein. The most spoken language of its 744 168 people is Setswana...
There are eight metropolitan municipalities in South Africa, with the most recently-created concurrently with the 2011 municipal election being the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality
Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is a metropolitan municipality which governs Bloemfontein and surrounding towns in the Free State province of South Africa. Mangaung is a Sesotho name meaning "place of leopards"...
surrounding the metropolitan area of Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...
and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality around East London.
District and local municipalities
In areas which are primarily rural, the local government is divided into district municipalities and local municipalities.
District (or category C) municipalities are the main divisions of South Africa's provinces; they are subdivided into local (or category B) municipalities. Local municipalities share authority with the district municipality under which they fall.
For example, the Msunduzi Local Municipality
Msunduzi Local Municipality is a local municipality in Umgungundlovu District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It encompasses the city of Pietermaritzburg, which is the capital of the KwaZulu-Natal province and the main economic hub of Umgungundlovu District Municipality.Msunduzi...
is contained within the District Municipality of uMgungundlovu
Umgungundlovu is one of the 11 district municipalities of KwaZulu-Natal province. The seat of Umgungundlovu is Pietermaritzburg. The majority of its 927 834 people speak Zulu...
, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal is a province of South Africa. Prior to 1994, the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and the homeland of KwaZulu....
Metropolitan and district municipalities form the layer of government directly below provinces. Eight metropolitan municipalities and 46 district municipalities cover the entirety of South Africa.
In South Africa, a local municipality or Category B municipality is a type of municipality that serves as the third, and most local, tier of local government...
represent a subdivision of the district municipalities, and form the third layer of government. Metropolitan municipalities have no such official subdivisions, but in one case, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, custom subdivisions have been established, known as administrative regions.
The final layer of subdivision of electoral regions in South Africa are electoral wards. Local and metropolitan municipalities are subdivided into electoral wards.
Apart from Chapter 7 of the South African Constitution, the South African Parliament has passed several pieces of legislation to deal specifically with local government in South Africa.
The South African Geographical Names Council
The South African Geographical Names Council is the official government body of South Africa that advises the executive branch of the central government on new geographical names as well as the changing of existing geographical names.- Purpose of the Council :The Council was established by the...
is a statutory body that deals specifically with changing names of places in South Africa, including municipalities.