In Section 40 of the Constitution it is stated that the government of the Republic of South Africa is constituted as national, provincial and local spheres of government which are distinctive, interdependent and interrelated. These spheres of government must observe and adhere to the principles of cooperative government. The three spheres of government mentioned must, inter alia, ensure the well-being of the people of the Republic, provide effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government, and not assume any power or function except that conditions performed in a manner that does not encroach on the geographical, functional or institutional integrity of government in another sphere. This can, inter alia, be achieved through mutual cooperation in a spirit of trust and good faith. (Albert Venter,2nd Ed,2001,p.202)
Section 155 of the Constitution refers to categories of municipalities: a municipality that has exclusive municipal executive and legislative authority in its area is called a Category A municipality. A Category C municipality has municipal executive and legislative authority in an area that includes more than one municipality. A municipality that shares municipal executive and legislative authority with a Category C municipality, within whose area it falls, is known as a Category B municipality. (Albert Venter,2nd Ed,2001,p.202) In terms of the above-mentioned legislation, District Municipalities are Category C Municipalities.
Municipal Powers and Functions
Local Governments are legally constituted as autonomous bodies. This is guaranteed by “the Constitution of the Republic of South-Africa, 1996”. Local governments cannot be dissolved and the local government system cannot be changed without changing the Constitution.
National and provincial governments can legislate to ensure that certain tasks and powers are assigned to or removed from local government. But local government is autonomous and not subordinate to provincial or national government. Local governments might find it necessary to change the size or structure of their organisation. Only councils have the power to do this.
Local Government must provide a vision and leadership for all those who have a role to play in achieving local prosperity. The Powers and Functions of municipalities should be exercised in a manner that has a maximum impact on the social development of communities and on the growth of the local economy. In addition to providing traditional services such as water provision and refuse collection, municipalities have a new expanded role to play. They must also lead, manage and plan for development within their respective jurisdictions.