The question arises: Can boundaries determined for the 5 December 2000 elections change?
The Demarcation Act, 1998 allows the Board to determine or re-determine a boundary on its own initiative or at the request of the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, the MEC responsible for local government in a province, or a municipality. Where a municipality requests the Board to determine or re-determine a boundary that municipality must obtain the concurrence of any other municipality affected by the proposed determination or re-determination. Where a request is received from a person or institution other than the above-mentioned the Board can deal with it on its own initiative.
Before the Board considers any determination or re-determination of a boundary, the Board must publish a section 26 notice in a newspaper circulating in the areas of the affected municipalities stating the Board’s intention to consider the matter; and inviting written representations and views from the public within a specified period (which may not be shorter than 21 days). When the Board publishes a notice it must convey by radio or other appropriate means of communication the contents of the notice in that area.
The Board must send by registered post, electronic means or by hand a copy of the notice to the MECs for local government in the two provinces; each municipality that will be affected by the Board’s consideration of the matter; the magistrate concerned if any magisterial district is affected; and the provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders concerned if the boundary of a traditional authority is affected, and invite them to submit written representations or their views on the matter to the Board within the period not less than 21 days.
When the period (at least 21 days) for written representations and views has expired, the Board must consider all representations and views submitted to it; and may take a decision on the re-determination or, before it takes such a decision – hold a public meeting;conduct a formal investigation; or do both. When considering the matter the Board must also take into account the objects and factors provided for in section 24 and 25 of the Demarcation Act.
The Board must then publish its determination or re-determination in the relevant Provincial Gazette. Any person aggrieved by the determination may, within 30 days of publication of the notice, submit objections in writing to the Board. After the 30 days have lapsed the Board must consider any objections; and either confirm, vary or withdraw its determination. Should the Board decide to confirm its determination such confirmation is published in the Provincial Gazette.
The Board must then send particulars of the determination to the Electoral Commission. If the Electoral Commission is of the view that the boundary determination will affect the representation of voters in the relevant councils the boundary changes will only take effect from the date of the next elections; will not materially affect the representation of voters in the councils, the determination will take effect from a date to be determined by notice in the Provincial Gazette by the MECs responsible for local government in a province.From the above it is clear that the Board may determine or re-determine a municipal boundary but if the representation of voters in a council is affected the new boundary will only apply as from the date of the next local elections.
It should be noted that the process to change the boundaries of cross-boundary municipalities, is more complex. In addition to the above process the Board must also get the concurrence of the relevant provincial legislatures and the determination or re-determination must also be authorised by an Act of Parliament.