Local government

City of Johannesburg Civic Centre buildingsThe Civic Centre in Braamfontein houses the City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality government. (Image: Media Club South Africa)

Local government and municipalities

Local government in South Africa administers cities and smaller regions. These are known as municipalities. There are three categories of municipality.

Metropolitan municipalities - defined as category A - govern the major city regions.

District municipalities, category C, are for wider areas outside the cities, like counties in the US and UK.

Districts are further divided into local municipalities, category B.

Chapter 7 of the Constitution explains the different categories:

  • Category A - Metropolitan: A municipality that has exclusive municipal executive and legislative authority in its area.
  • Category B - Local: A municipality that shares municipal executive and legislative authority in its area with a category C municipality within whose area it falls.
  • Category C - District: A municipality that has municipal executive and legislative authority in an area that includes more than one municipality.
Map of 
South Africa's municipalitiesMap of South Africa's municipalities. Shaded areas indicate district municipalities, each subdivided into the local municipalities they govern. The eight city or metropolitan municipalities are in shades of red, and named. (Image adapted from Wikimedia Commons)

The country has 278 municipalities: eight metropolitan, 44 district and 226 local.

Metropoles have a choice between two types of government: the mayoral executive system where the mayor has the authority, or the collective executive committee system.

Metropolitan municipalities in South Africa

Compiled by Mary Alexander and reporter
Updated: 6 November 2015

Want to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using material


Helping the media cover the South African story >

Weather forecasts

South Africa weather forecasts

Snap daily forecasts for 20 cities and
towns. >