July 14, 2024
South Africa: Frequent Changes in Demarcation of Municipal Boundaries Disrupt Service Delivery Plans, Committee Hears
– By Godswill Odiong

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The residents of Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality told the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs that frequent changes in the demarcation of municipal boundaries and the delimitation of wards is a major cause of instability in many municipalities and can also disrupt planning by municipalities.

Participating in the parliamentary public hearings on the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority Bill in Botshabelo yesterday, the residents proposed that any reviews or changes of municipal boundaries must only happen after ten or fifteen years in order to avoid instability and disruption of Integrated Development Plans at municipalities.

They also called for clear boundaries to separate municipalities and wards. They proposed the use of roads or rivers as boundaries, unlike the current situation where some neighbours reportedly belong in different wards in the same geographic area.

The majority of participants declared their support for the Bill and told the committee that they hoped the new Bill would be able to resolve some of the existing demarcation discrepancies. They also claimed that the current demarcation board was takingtoo long to resolve demarcation disputes.

Another objective of the Bill that received big support was the provision for the establishment of the Demarcation Appeals Authority to deal with appeals; and where the Bill provides for more extensive public participation and stakeholder consultation for any demarcation or delimitation of municipal wards.

The Bill also seeks to repeal and replace the Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act, 1998 (Act No. 27 of 1998), so as to align and update the legislation with the current Demarcation Board practices, and to rename the Municipal Demarcation Board to the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority.

Free State was the third province to get an opportunity to make inputs on the Bill,the committee has also conducted public hearings in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces, and plans to visit all provinces.

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