More time for municipal boundary change requests
Johannesburg - South Africans have more time to request certain municipal boundary changes, the Municipal Demarcations Board said on Thursday.
"The new deadline is set for 20 January 2012," said MDB chairperson Landiwe Mahlangu.
However, he said the revised deadline would only be applicable in "exceptional cases".
Mahlangu said the board had received a request to grant more time for organisations or individual people to submit their proposals for re-determining municipal boundaries.
"It is important to MDB that this process is as inclusive and consultative as possible."
500 applications received
The extensions would be granted on a case-by-case basis; whereby the board would look at why the proposal was coming in late and if the organisation or individual had tried to previously make contact with the board.
The applicant would be informed on January 24 whether their proposal would be considered.
This year the board travelled around the country to gather input from South Africans.
In November, Mahlangu said the board had already received about 500 applications.
He said at the time that some cases could see major and large scale changes leading to mergers, re-categorisation and even the establishment of entirely new municipalities.
Some of the changes could also include amalgamations or a simple change of municipal boundaries to follow a feature such as a road or a river.
This year, a number of cases dealing with demarcations went to court.
Just before the municipal elections this year, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the MDB in a case that could have delayed elections.
The Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation (HBRF) had wanted to establish a municipality of Soweto.
However, the court found that the foundation had not followed proper procedure in trying to get their wish fulfilled.
In August this year, the Constitutional Court dismissed an application by Moutse residents to have the municipality's move from Mpumalanga to Limpopo declared invalid.
At the time Mahlangu said the demarcation process was necessary to help South Africa move on from its apartheid past.
"In the end, demarcation should do away with [the] historically racially motivated design of municipalities," Mahlangu said.
One of the key pieces of apartheid legislation was the Group Areas Act of 1950 which allocated different racial groups separate residential and business areas.
In post-apartheid South Africa, demarcation issues have also seen protests flare up.
In March, Matatiele residents marched against the incorporation of the area into the Eastern Cape; asking instead to be reincorporated back into KwaZulu-Natal.
Khutsong residents staged violent protests since 2006, including petrol bombing the homes of ANC councillors, blocking roads and the destruction of municipal property, against their incorporation into the North West.
The municipality was finally returned to Gauteng following an announcement made by the ANC in December 2008.
At the beginning of 2012, the MDB will embark on another round of consultations around boundary changes.
The entire process of re-determining municipal boundaries is set to be completed by 2013.
The next general election is in 2014 and the next local government election is in 2016.