Frequently Asked Questions - MDB


Municipal Demarcation Board - FAQS

  • Prior to 1999 there was Provincial Demarcation Boards
  • The Boards establishment is provided for in the Constitution, 1996
  • The Board was specifically established 1 Feb 1999 ito the Demarcation Act, 1998
  • Board members are appointed by the President for 5 year term
  • Only the Chairperson is a full time member of 10.
  • The MDB is Independent and may establish one or more committees
  • Only one national office exist in Pretoria
  • The MDB has a Small staff establishment – 4 clusters – GIS, Research, Finance, HR/Ad


  • The determination and re-determination of municipal outer boundaries.
  • Ward delimitation of local and metro municipalities for elections.
  • The categorization of metropolitan areas into category A (metro), category B (local) and category C (districts) municipalities.
  • Capacity assessments towards the allocation of Powers and Functions towards service delivery and District management areas (currently no DMAs exist)
  • Other projects such as Also provide advice to the MEC (disestablishment of municipalities) and assist service departments to align their boundaries with municipal boundaries towards better service delivery.


  • MDB follows 2 broad cycles between local elections.
  • Immediate after an elections municipal boundaries are reviewed. This first cycle takes around 2 years.
  • After the review of municipal boundaries wards are delimited for the next local elections. This second cycle takes around 18 months.
  • Elections were held on 18 May 2011, and the review of municipal boundaries commenced in June 2011. Next local elections are approximately May 2016 (can deviate with 90 days).

Circular 1/2011 provided:

l Legal provisions pertaining to the mandate of the MDB;

lThe process and programme that would be followed from 2011 to 2016;

lThe re-determination cases (mostly technical – Type A cases) already before the Board for consideration, on which comments were invited;

lAn invitation and the procedures to submit new requests to the MDB for consideration;

lStakeholders submitted additional requests for boundary changes. Closing date was 20 January 2012.

lTaking into account the criteria, and the comments received from stakeholders, the MDB decided to reject some proposals, but they may again be considered during the MDB’s next boundary assessment process.

lSome cases will be published in terms of Section 26 to test public opinion.

lMunicipalities were visited from Aug 2011 to deal with the proposed re-determinations in Circular 1/2011.

Circular 2/2011 clarified:

lThe Board outlined three different types of re-determination in order to make this process more manageable and simple

lthe different forms that should have been used to respond to the MDB’s invitation to participate in the process.

lForm D was to be used to submit new proposals.

lMany proposals were submitted but without motivation. This requires urgent attention.


Circular 3/2012 clarified up to date timeline dates pertaining to when expected investigations to be conducted.

TYPE A - Technical and minor boundary re-determinations

l This re-determination entails a small scale boundary adjustment and/or alignment with:

o A minor impact on the geographic area

o A negligible or no impact on the number of voters

o No impact on the capacity of the affected municipalities

l The outcome of this redetermination is the correction and/or alignment of a municipal boundary with physical or natural features such as:

o roads,

o rivers, and mountains;

o cadastral boundaries (parent farm boundaries) or

o a combination of the two.

Alignment to cadastre may be necessary where, for purposes of property valuations and rates, a property has to be under the jurisdiction of one municipality rather than being split between two or more municipal areas.


TYPE B – Consolidation and Annexations

l This is a medium scale boundary re-determination that may impact on:

o a sizable geographic area, and

o number of voters

o in one or all the municipalities affected.

o This type of determination may impact on ward arrangements but will not, or will not materially, impact on the capacities of the affected municipalities to deliver services.

l The outcome of this type of boundary adjustment is the correction of boundary anomalies that affect service delivery, and to promote integrated communities and economies.


TYPE C – Amalgamation and Categorisation

l This type of re-determination entails a major and large scale municipal boundary re-determination which will have a significant impact on the geographic areas, the number of voters, and the capacities of the affected municipalities.

l The re-determination includes the merging of adjacent municipalities or the splitting of municipal areas to create municipal areas

l It will result in the MEC needing to disestablish an existing municipality or municipalities, and establish a new municipality or municipalities.

l This type also includes the categorisation of any new metropolitan municipalities with or without boundary changes

o must satisfy Section 2 of the MSA and Section 24 and 25 of the Demarcation Act and after consultation with National Minister responsible for local government, the MEC for local government in the provinces concerned, and SALGA .

This type of request requires extensive motivation and a significant amount of supporting evidence. 

Step 1: Section 26

The Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act, 1998, requires that the MDB publishes a notice in the media, and that certain functionaries be informed of the contents of the notice.

· No decisions on the redeterminations have been taken when the section 26 notices are published in the media. Section 26 notices merely reflect the MDB’s intention to consider the proposed boundary changes.

· The contents of section 26 notices will be conveyed to the Section 26 stakeholders (MECs, municipalities, Houses of Traditional Leaders and Magistrates) and other stakeholders by circular and other means of communication.

· Stakeholders will be allowed at least 21 days to submit written views and representation to the MDB.

· Comments on the proposed re-determinations should be motivated taking into account section 24 and 25 of the Demarcation Act, 1998, and in the case of metropolitan areas, also to Section 2 of the Structures Act, 1998.

Step2: When the period for written representations and views in terms of section 26 has expired, the MDB-

(a) must consider all representations and views submitted to it; and

(b) may take a decision on the determination or, before it takes such a decision-

(i) hold a public meeting;

(ii) conduct a formal investigation; or

(iii) do both.

· MDB not obliged to hold public meetings and conduct formal investigations.

· However, should it decide to do so sections 28, 29 and 30 would apply.

Step 3: Section 21

Should the MDB take a decision on the re-determination into Sec 27, Section 21 should be complied with.

The determination or re-determination will be published in the relevant Provincial Gazette.

The onus is on any aggrieved person to submit written objections to the MDB within a period of 30 days. No extension of this period is legally possible, and any objection received after the closing date will be rejected.

All objections received within 30 days will be considered by the MDB.

The MDB may confirm, vary or withdraw its determination or re-determination, and must publish its decision in the relevant Provincial Gazette.

Step 4: The MDB must provide particulars of its re-determinations to the IEC.

The IEC must publish its views in the Provincial Gazette.

If the redetermination affects the representation of voters in any of the affected municipal councils, the redetermination takes effect on the date of next election.

If the redetermination does not affect the representation of voters in any of the affected municipal councils, the redetermination takes effect on the commencement date of the municipal financial year following the date of publication of the notice effecting such re-determination.

The Minister of Finance of must be informed of the redetermination 6 months before the commencement date of the financial year, and the MEC must publish the date in the Provincial Gazette.

Apart from theMDBs own initiative, a request can also be made by theMinister or MEC, or on request from an municipality with the concurrence of any other municipality affected by the proposed determination or redetermination (Section 22).

Before the Board’s considers any determination of a boundary in terms of section 21, the MDB must publish a notice in a newspaper circulating in the area concerned, stating its intention. Written public views and representations are also invited for at least 21 days.Such intention is also send to the provincial MEC, each affected municipality, the provincial House of Traditional Leaders and Magistrates (Section 26).

The Board then consider the proposal in terms of the its Objectives and Factors of influence (as outlined in term ofsection 24 and 25) where specifically.

10.Can someone object to a boundary change?

Any aggrieved person can, within 30 days of Section 21 publication object in writing. Once the MDB have considered the objections, the change is confirmed, varied or withdrawn; the Board publishes its final publication in the relevant Provincial Gazette (Section 21(5)).

Within 60 days after having received the publication to redetermine from the Demarcation Board, the IEC must make known its views by publishing a notice in the Provincial Gazette.

11.When does a boundary change take effect?

The IEC view decides when the boundary change becomes affective, namely should changes not affect voters significantly, the change becomes effective on the date as indicated in the notice by the MEC. However, if there is a voters impact, Changes to municipal boundaries become effective on the date of the next local election (section 23)

The relevant MEC of the province also gives effect to a boundary change by publishing a notice within 3 months of the IEC notice (section 23). 

Also known as Section 24 criteria, the main objective must be to tested such as if an area would-

(a) enable the municipality for that area to fulfil its constitutional obligations, including-

(i) the provision of democratic and accountable government for the local communities;

(ii) the provision of services to the communities in an equitable and sustainable manner;

(iii) the promotion of social and economic development; and

(iv) the promotion of a safe and healthy environment;

(b) enable effective local governance;

(c) enable integrated development; and

(d) have a tax base as inclusive as possible of users of municipal services in the municipality.


(For metros add Section 2 of the Structures Act, 1998)

An area must have a single category A municipality if that area can reasonably be regarded as-

(a) a conurbation featuring-

(i) areas of high population density;

(ii) an intense movement of people, goods, and services;

(iii) extensive development; and

(iv) multiple business districts and industrial areas;

(b) a centre of economic activity with a complex and diverse economy;

(c) a single area for which integrated development planning is desirable; and

(d) having strong interdependent social and economic linkages between its constituent units.


The above objective should also be motivated in meeting the Section 25 criteria involving-

(a) the interdependence of people, communities and economies as indicated by-

(i) existing and expected patterns of human settlement and


(ii) employment;

(iii) commuting and dominant transport movements;

(iv) spending;

(v) the use of amenities, recreational facilities and infrastructure; and

(vi) commercial and industrial linkages;

(b) the need for cohesive, integrated and unfragmented areas, including metropolitan areas;

(c) the financial viability and administrative capacity of the municipality to perform municipal functions efficiently and effectively;

(d) the need to share and redistribute financial and administrative resources;

provincial and municipal boundaries;

areas of traditional communities;

(g) existing and proposed functional boundaries, including magisterial districts, voting districts, health, transport, police and census enumerator boundaries;

(h) existing and expected land use, social, economic and transport planning;

(i) the need for coordinated municipal, provincial and national programs and services, including the needs for the administration of justice and health care;

(j) topographical, environmental and physical characteristics of the area;

(k) the administrative consequences of its boundary determination on-

(i) municipal creditworthiness;

(ii) existing municipalities, their council members and staff; and

(iii) any other relevant matter; and

(l) the need to rationalize the total number of municipalities within different categories and of different types to achieve the objectives of effective and sustainable service delivery, financial viability and macro-economic stability.

These cases are not the mandate of the MDB, but should be directed to Department of Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA);

Provincial boundaries needs to be determined constitutionally.

Representations regarding changes to municipal boundaries affecting provincial boundaries need to be submitted to national Minister responsible for local government;

Minister needs to follow Cabinet structures to submit proposals to Parliament to amend the Constitution

The Constitution provides that a Bill providing for an amendment to alter provincial boundaries, must be passed by the National Assembly with a supporting vote of at least two thirds of its members, and also by the National Council of Provinces, with a supporting vote of at least six provinces. This parliamentary process, is part of a lengthy process to amend the Constitution (Section 74(3)).

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