South Africa is a country at the southernmost tip of the African continent. It has a multilevel system of government organized at the national, provincial (regional) and municipal (local) levels. The country’s current system of cooperative multilevel governance is anchored by the progressive Constitution adopted in 1996. The provincial layer of government is constituted by nine provincial governments, which provide major social services such as health, education and social welfare. The local layer of government consists of 257 municipalities of different sizes. Municipalities, which are charged with the delivery of basic municipal services (local roads, solid waste management, water, electricity, sanitation, etc.), are the sphere or tier of government closest to the people. As a result, they tend to have most contact with citizens relative to the central and provincial governments. Provincial and municipal governments in South Africa are both autonomous, highly devolved subnational government entities, with local governments having a somewhat greater degree of autonomy compared to the provincial governments.

Subnational government structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessment

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: South Africa 2023 (PDF / Excel)

Additional resources

South Africa Country Profile (Commonwealth Local Government Forum)

South Africa Country Profile (Forum of Federations)

Local government country profile: South Africa (UN Women)

South Africa Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

Local Government Autonomy in South Africa (Chigwata, 2021)

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Last update: September 22, 2023