Local Government > The Role of Municipal Councils
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The Role of Municipal Councils

The roles played by municipal councils are to:

  • Pass by-laws – local laws and regulations about any of the functions they are responsible for. By-laws may not go against any national laws and are subject to the Constitution.
  • Approve budgets and development plans – every year a municipal budget must be passed that sets down how money will be raised and spent. The council must also approve the integrated development plan.
  • Impose rates and other taxes, for example, property tax
  • Charge service fees – for using municipal services like water, electricity, libraries, and so on
  • Impose fines – for people who break municipal by-laws, for example, traffic fines, littering
  • Borrow money – the council can take a loan for a development or other project and use the municipal assets as surety
  • Draw up, approve or amend integrated development plans (IDPs)

In playing their role, municipal councils have a duty to:

  • Use their resources in the best interests of the communities
  • Be democratic and accountable in the way they govern
  • Encourage communities to be involved in the affairs of local government
  • Provide services to the community
  • Make sure the environment is safe and healthy

Municipal councils have executive and legislative powers for these functions. In other words, they have the right to make laws and decisions about the affairs of residents and communities in their areas and to claim service fees from residents regarding:

  • electricity delivery
  • water for household use
  • sewage and sanitation
  • storm water systems
  • refuse removal
  • fire fighting services
  • municipal health services
  • decisions around land use
  • local roads
  • local public transport
  • street trading
  • abattoirs and fresh food markets
  • parks and recreational areas
  • other community facilities
  • local tourism