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East London, Bloem to become metros

13 Jan 2011

Buffalo City (East London) and Mangaung (Bloemfontein) will become metropolitan cities after the local government elections, but all this will mean is that officials in the two councils will earn bigger salaries.

The inclusion of East London and Bloemfontein means that South Africa now has eight metropolitan municipalities. The others are Johannesburg, Tshwane (Pretoria), Ekurhuleni (East Rand, Gauteng), Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) and eThekwini (Durban).

The move will not result in any changes to service delivery says political analysts Stephen Friedman who points out that the change in the cities’ status will not provide any benefits to residents.

Bongani Qwabe, manager of the local government unit at the Institute for Democracy in Southern Africa, says that instead of improved services in the two regions, the councils will face additional burdens through high salaries for executives.

The two cities were declared metros because of rapid urbanisation, a large movement of people and goods, multiple districts with their boundaries and rapidly expanding industrial areas and development nodes.

According to Landiwe Mahlangu, chairman of the Municipal Demarcation Board, Buffalo City has some huge development nodes and Bloemfontein has a huge movement of people in the city and in Thaba Nchu.

Mahlangu says that as metros, the cities will have to deliver specific services but whether they would be able to achieve this or not was “a different story.”

The inclusion of Buffalo City and Mangaung means that South Africa now has eight metropolitan municipalities. The others are Johannesburg, Tshwane (Pretoria), Ekurhuleni (East Rand), Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) and eThekwini (Durban).

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Paddy Hartdegen

Paddy Hartdegen

Freelance columnist at

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