The MDB delimit wards to all municipalities that qualify to have wards in order to deepen local democracy and promote local governance.

After having finalised the boundaries of the municipalities, preparations for elections commence. The MDB plays a key role in this process. The electoral system provides for the election of ward councillors, and it is the responsibility of the MDB to delimit such wards within which ward councillors can be elected. Different stakeholders play a role in the ward delimitation process. Firstly the IEC divides the national voters roll into municipal segments The number of registered voters is then used by national Minister responsible for local government, to determine a formula for the number of councillors for each municipality. This is done in terms of section 20(3) of the Structures Act, 1998. The MECs responsible for local government in the 9 provinces use this formula to determine the number of councillors for each municipality in terms of section 18 of the Structures Act, 1998. Under certain conditions the MECs may deviate from the formula. The Minister’s determination is published in the Government Gazette, while section 18 notices are published in the Provincial Gazette.

Once number of councillors is published, this information is used by the MDB to calculate the number of wards by dividing the number of councillors for the municipality by two (2). A norm for the number of registered voters per ward is then calculated by dividing the number of registered voters in the municipality by the number of ward councillors. The legislation allows for a deviation of 15% above or below the norm. These numbers are then used during the spatial configuration of ward boundaries to ensure that each ward in a municipality has more or less the same number of registered voters, as required by Schedule 1 to the Structures Act, 1998.

Whilst the MDB endeavours to retain stable ward boundaries as far as possible, it is in general not possible due to an increase or decrease in the number of registered voters which impacts on the number of councillors, and thus on the number of wards.

As in the case of municipal boundaries, the MDB follows a lengthy consultative process before final ward boundaries are finalised in compliance with the criteria provided for in Schedule 1 of the Structures Act, 1998. The MDB provides draft sets of ward maps to stakeholders and communities, and convenes meetings with them with a view to reach agreement on the ward boundaries before the commencement of the legal process.

The MDB delimited the following number of wards for the local elections held in 2000, 2006 and 2011:

Province

Wards

2000

Wards

2006

Wards

2011

Eastern Cape

601

636

715

Free State

291

300

317

Gauteng

446

423

508

KwaZulu-Natal

748

771

828

Limpopo

445

513

543

Mpumalanga

393

365

402

North West

338

365

383

Northern Cape

162

174

194

Western Cape

330

348

387

Total

3754

3895

4277

The ward delimitation process for the 2016 local elections will commence in 2014, immediately after the Minister has published the formula, and the MECs have determined the number of councillors.