Local government

Local Government Turnaround Strategy
Municipal Infrastructure Grant
Community Work Programme opportunities
Local economic development



In accordance with the Constitution and the Organised Local Government Act, 1997 (Act 52 of 1997), up to 10 part-time representatives may be designated to represent municipalities and participate in proceedings of the National Council of Provinces.

The Deparment of Cooperative Governance aims to build and strengthen the capability and accountability of provinces and municipalities. This includes:

  • continued hands-on support through the established system and capacity building programme, focusing on critical areas such as integrated development planning, local economic development (LED), financial management, service delivery and public participation;
  • evaluating the impact of government programmes in municipal areas, enhancing performance and accountability by improving the quality of reporting on the Local Government Strategic Agenda and improving the monitoring, reporting and evaluation of capacity in local government; and
  • coordinating and supporting policy development, implementing the Local Government Strategic Agenda, and monitoring and supporting service delivery.


South Africa has 257 metropolitan, district and local municipalities. This number comprises eight metropolitan, 44 district and 205 local municipalities. They are focused on growing local economies and providing infrastructure and service.

As directed by the Constitution, the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act of 1998 contains criteria for determining when an area must have a category-A municipality (metropolitan municipalities) and when municipalities fall into categories B (local municipalities) or C (district municipalities). 
The Act also determines that category-A municipalities can only be established in metropolitan areas.

Metropolitan councils have single metropolitan budgets, common property ratings and service-tariff systems, and single-employer bodies. The eight metropolitan municipalities are:

Metropolitan councils may decentralise powers and functions.However, all original municipal, legislative and executive powers are vested in the metropolitan council.

In metropolitan areas, there is a choice of types of executive system: the mayoral executive system where executive authority is vested in the mayor, or the collective executive committee system where these powers are vested in the executive committee.

Non-metropolitan areas consist of district councils and local councils. District councils are primarily responsible for capacity building and district-wide planning. The Local Government: Municipal Structures Act of 1998 provides for ward committees whose tasks, among other things, are to:

  • prepare, implement and review integrated development plans;
  • establish, implement and review municipalities’ performance management systems;
  • monitor and review municipalities’ performances;
  • prepare municipalities’ budgets;
  • participate in decisions about the provision of municipal services; and
  • communicate and disseminate information on governance matters.

Local Government Turnaround Strategy

The Local Government Turnaround Strategy was introduced as a government programme of action and a blueprint for better service delivery aimed at responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government. Five focus areas aimed at fast-tracking implementation of the strategy have been identified.

These are service delivery, governance, financial management, infrastructure development and fighting corruption.

Municipal Infrastructure Grant

The grant aims to eradicate municipal infrastructure backlogs in poor communities to ensure the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, roads and community lighting.

The Deparment of Cooperative Governance is responsible for managing and transferring the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, and provides support to provinces and municipalities on implementing the grant projects.

Community Work Programme

This is a key government initiative aimed at mobilising communities to provide regular and predictable work opportunities at the local government level.

The purpose of the programme is to provide an employment safety net for those without access to opportunities designed to lift them out of poverty. 

The programme recognises that policies to address unemployment and create decent work will take time to reach people living in marginalised areas where few opportunities exist.

Local economic development

LED is an approach towards economic development that allows and encourages local people to work together to achieve sustainable economic growth and development, thereby bringing economic benefits and improved quality of life to all residents in a local municipal area.

LED is intended to maximise the economic potential of municipal localities and enhance the resilience of macro-economic growth through increased local economic growth, employment creation and development initiatives within the context of sustainable development.

The “local” in economic development points to the fact that the political jurisdiction at local level is often the most appropriate place for economic intervention, as it carries alongside it the accountability and legitimacy of a democratically elected body.

LED programmes provide support in the following areas:

  • Developing and reviewing national policy, strategy and  guidelines on LED;
  • Providing direct and hands-on support to provincial and local government;
  • Managing the LED Fund;
  • Managing and providing technical support to nodal economic development planning;
  • Facilitating, coordinating and monitoring donor programmes; and
  • Assisting LED capacity-building processes.

Through these interventions and resources, local role players and interest groups are mobilised to achieve economic growth and creating jobs to reduce poverty.

Source: South Africa Yearbook 2022/2023

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