INTRODUCTION

The Municipal Demarcation Board is an independent authority responsible for the determination of municipal boundaries. The Board’s status as an independent authority is also protected by section 3 of The Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act, 1998, and various judgments by the Constitutional Court.

BACKGROUND TO THE MUNICIPAL DEMARCATION BOARD

Prior to the establishment of a national Demarcation Board in 1999, the determination of municipal boundaries for the 1995-96 local elections was done in terms of the Local Government Transition Act, No 209 of 1993. Members of the provincial executive councils (MECs) determined the boundaries on the advice of provincial demarcation boards. Due to a provision in the Constitution [section 155(3)(b)], as well as to amendments to the Local Government Transition Act and the promulgation of the Municipal Demarcation Act, the nine provincial demarcation boards were disestablished and MECs were no longer responsible for the determination of municipal boundaries.

In 1995/96, 1,262 local government bodies across the country were amalgamated into 843 local authorities (now known as municipalities in terms of legislation enacted after the promulgation of the 1996 Constitution).

The new Constitution, adopted in 1996, required National legislation to establish criteria for determining when an area should have a single category A municipality or when it should have municipalities of both category B and category C; and to establish criteria and procedures for the determination of municipal boundaries by an independent authority. This resulted in the enactment of the Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act, 1998, and the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998.

The introduction of the Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act No 27 in 1998 marked an important milestone in the history of constitutional democracy in South Africa. It was a piece of legislation that gave birth to an independent constitutional body, the Municipal Demarcation Board, which was established and mandated to demarcate municipal boundaries of the entire territory of the Republic.