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Chapter 4 - Local Government

Elections for Local Government

Metro and local council elections

Election work differently in the different categories of municipalities.

Category A - Metropolitan municipality

Half the councillors are elected according to proportional representation, where voters vote for a party (not a specific person). The other half of the councillors are elected as ward councillors by the residents in each ward. Two ballot papers are given to the voter.

Category B - Local Municipality

Half the councillors are elected according to proportional representation, where voters vote for a party. The other half are elected as ward councillors by the resident in each ward. Voters get these two ballot papers plus a third one for the district council.

Category C - District Municipality

Voting for the District Municipality is done on a separate ballot paper at local level. The district council is made up of two types of councillors:

40% of councillors are elected to the district council by all voters in the area according to proportional representation, where voters vote for the party (40% of the district councillors)

60% of councillors are drawn from: elected councillors of local municipalities in the district who are sent by their councils to represent them on the district council.

The following table gives a summary of the type of councils, the areas they cover, how voters living within the council areas can vote, they number of councillors each may have, and how the council is made up of councillors.

Type of council Areas Type of election Number of councillors Where the councillors come from
A: Metro Council 8 largest cities in South Africa 2 ballots:
1 ward vote
1 PR vote for Metro Council
not more
than 270
50% from ward votes
50% from PR votes
B: Local Council All towns plus surrounding rural areas 3 ballots:
1 ward note
1 PR vote for Local Council
1 PR vote for District Council
3-90 50% from ward votes
50% from PR votes
C: District Council Area with a number of local municipalities PR ballot:
voting is done at local and DMA level (see above and below)
3-90 40% from Local Council PR vote for District Council
60% from Local Council and DMA representatives

PR = Proportional representation

PR means proportional representation, where voters vote for a political party not an individual candidate within a party. The ballot paper just shows the political parties. Then the party gets the same share of the number of councillors as the share of total PR votes it got. The party decides which members fill those councillor places. The party can remove a PR councillor at any time, and replace her or him with someone else.

With a ward vote the ballot paper shows the names of candidates and the party they represent (some candidates may be independents). When a ward councillor resigns or is disqualified, a by-election is held to elect a new councillor in their place. A ward councillor who leaves the party they represented in the election must resign.


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