Municipal boundary determination process gets underway

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) will soon embark on nationwide public consultations on the draft sets of electoral wards in preparation for next year’s local government elections.

Addressing the media in Pretoria on Thursday, MDB board chairperson Thabo Manyoni said the consultative process -- which will be held between February and April this year -- reflects the board’s commitment to improve public participation in democratic processes.

“We therefore call on all members of the public to actively participate and express their views on how their wards should be configured,” said Manyoni.

As one of the core mandates of the organisation, Manyoni said the ward delimitation process is regarded as a crucial step towards deepening local democracy and promoting spatial transformation within communities.

“This has been the core element driving the organisation for the past 21 years of its existence,” said Manyoni.

The MDB delimits wards for the purpose of local elections after consultations with the IEC [Electoral Commission]. Wards are delimited in all metropolitan and local municipalities. This process is deemed necessary to lay a solid foundation for the delivery of free and fair local government elections (LGE).

During the 2016 local government elections, there were 4 392 wards in the country. An additional 76 wards will bring the total number of wards to 4 468 for the 2021 local government elections.

The MDB said the process has culminated in the conclusion of the first draft sets of wards.

Over the next three months, the MDB will visit all local and metropolitan municipalities across the country for consultations. In February, the board will be in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape. The following month will see the board in Gauteng. The consultations will conclude in April in the Northern Cape, Free State, North West and Limpopo.

MDB deputy chairperson Mbali Myeni said the final wards would be announced in July.

“We should have the comfort of knowing that the process was transparent and decisions taken have, as far as possible, embraced inputs from our stakeholders and communities,” she said.

The final list of wards will then be handed over to the IEC in August 2020.

Myeni said it was important to indicate that the MDB has no influence in the determination of the formulae and the number of councillors in a municipality, and therefore cannot increase or reduce the number of councillors determined by MECs [Members of Executive Councils].

Roadmap of the ward delimitation process 

Regarding the timeframes of the ward delimitation process, the MDB said it would consider all public proposals received and delimit wards after the public meetings in February to April 2020.

“The wards will be published in provincial gazettes for objections by May 2020. Any aggrieved person will have 14 days to object,” said the board.

The MDB will then consider all objections and publish its final decisions in provincial gazettes by July 2020. -