Municipal By-Laws as Instruments for Township Economic Development in Gauteng

This project and the partnership between South African Cities Network (SACN), the South African Research Chair in Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability (CLES) at North-West University and the WITS Law School successfully accomplished the research initiative of SACN and the Gauteng Office of the Premier. This series of research reports is intended to address key institutional barriers to the growth and development of township economies, particularly in relation to enablement through regulation in terms of national, provincial, and municipal law.


Township economies are complex. They come from a South African history of socially engineered urban growth and marginalisation, macro- and micro-level systems of power and decision-making, and multiple international, African regional, national and local economic and political forces. Formal and informal enterprises and markets based in townships are fast expanding, as is the number of established and emerging (local and foreign) township entrepreneurs. The government and provincial authorities would like to see township economies flourish and make a sustainable contribution to the country’s overall economic growth.


This research paper is the second in a series of two. Both papers are situated in a legal context. The first, titled ‘Township Economic Development in Gauteng Province: National and Provincial Perspectives’ (Research Paper 1), reviews the national and Gauteng provincial legal frameworks, to map the legal landscape pertaining to township economic development, and to identify steps that the Gauteng provincial government is empowered and well-placed to take to revitalise and enable township economic development in the province.


This present research paper draws on the first two possibilities listed above. It concludes the mapping of the legal landscape commenced in Research Paper 1 by reviewing provisions contained in the current bylaws of all municipalities in Gauteng that may impact on township economic development. This review uncovers examples of bylaw provisions that may assist in township economic development, and some that may hinder it. It also provides an overall picture of the extent and uniformity of the local-level regulation of township economic activity in the province, which may inform the content of provincial framework legislation. The authors also question the potential of bylaws, as a form of legal instrument, to contribute to the revitalisation of township economic growth.