Containing the Human “Tree” in South Africa-What is the Perfect Size?

Zaakirah Iqbal Jeeva, Trynos Gumbo, Juanee Cilliers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


On the 19th of May 2022, the South African Minister of Finance, Mr. Enoch Godongwana acknowledged that 88 of the 256 municipalities in South Africa were dysfunctional and consequently their local economies were struggling. In light of this, these municipalities were to be “taken over” and managed by National treasury and not the local municipality. One could state that effective governance is dependent on the efficient structure and composition of the municipalities as much as the administration of the region. In light of these sentiments, the paper interrogates the manner in which municipalities are formed, demarcated and establishment in South Africa in order to determine if the area delimited are manageable. The paper analyses the 88 municipalities listed as dysfunctional in terms of their 2016 delimited areas and their related population. It found that at least 81% of the 88 municipalities had a population density below 100 people/km2. It further found that the sparse development and low population density of these municipal areas hindered meaningful economic investments and social development. Consequently, the paper suggests that smaller municipalities might provide a solution to creating more functionally efficient municipalities with stronger economies. The paper provides insights around challenges associated with delimitation and how they could be ameliorated in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Urban Ecologies of Divided Cities
EditorsAmira Osman, John Nagle, Sabyasachi Tripathi
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9783031273070
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventInternational Conference, The City is [NOT] a Tree: The Urban Ecologies of Divided Cities, UEDC 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 5 Jul 20227 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in Science, Technology and Innovation
ISSN (Print)2522-8714
ISSN (Electronic)2522-8722


ConferenceInternational Conference, The City is [NOT] a Tree: The Urban Ecologies of Divided Cities, UEDC 2022
CityVirtual, Online


  • Delimitation
  • Dysfunctional
  • Municipalities
  • Population density
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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