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The Constitution and Municipalities

The municipal council is the legislative authority of a municipality. It has the right to pass by-laws, budgets and policies to govern the local government affairs of its community, subject to national and provincial legislation. The council also elects the executive that oversees implementation (mayor plus committee).

The Constitution also requires that the three spheres of government engage with each other in co-operative government. Section 154 specifically requires of national and provincial governments to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities. Provincial departments of cooperative or local government monitor and support the work of local government.

There are Constitutional limitations to describe the extent to which other spheres of government can intervene when municipalities are unable to exercise their mandate. Section 139 of the Constitution limits the powers that provincial governments have to intervene in the affairs of local government. It says the provincial government can only intervene, or take over, when it is clear that the local government has not done what it was supposed to do under the law.