500 possible boundary changes
Pretoria - More than 500 municipal boundaries could be changed by the next general election, Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) chairperson Landiwe Mahlangu said in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Mahlangu said the board had identified the potential major and minor boundary changes.
These should be completed by early in 2013, after the MDB had received input from various stakeholders, and the process finalised by May 2013.
"We need to open up this process. We are asking those who have submissions to make, they should do so," he said.
Those wanting to make submissions should do so by December 15.
Some of the changes could include amalgamations or a simple change of municipal boundaries to follow a feature such as a road or a river.
Robert Willemse from the board's research department said that of the 500 potential changes, some 60 were as a result of applications sent to the Board. The balance were "technical refinements" to align municipal boundaries with features such as a road or river.
He warned that creating a municipal boundary did not necessarily ensure a viable municipality.
He said that the previous municipal ward demarcation process before the last local government election had cost approximately R7m.
Willemse did not expect the current demarcation process to cost more.
Mahlangu said he was aware of two requests to have a municipality split into two. He said there was a possibility that there could be more such requests.
Mahlangu said the MDB would visit various municipalities across the country later this year to hear submissions.
He said the changing of boundaries was an "emotive issue" and he expected that the process would not "be without controversies".
While there would be submissions from the public as well as public meetings, there would be no referendums on boundary changes.
Mahlangu said the demarcation process did not allow for it, and a constitutional amendment would be required for referendums within the affected municipalities.
The next general election is in 2014 and the next local government election is in 2016.
Between the two elections the process of re-demarcating municipal ward boundaries would take place in consultation with the Independent Electoral Commission.