Municipal Legislative Alignment and Enablement Analysis Report

South Africa’s spatial transformation project is ongoing. It finds itself challenged in manifold ways, one of which is the regulatory environment within which spatial transformation should be executed. Spatial transformation is at the heart of spatial justice, which is necessary for the safety, inclusivity, resilience and sustainability of every city and town in South Africa. It follows that the combination of applicable regulatory instruments should be complementary and enabling and such that can yield tangible transformative outcomes.


This report forms part of a continuous process of questioning the slow progress of spatial transformation in South African cities. There are many factors at play, ranging from institutional barriers and the depth of the historically created spatial divide to inadequate political commitment, competing development priorities and insufficient resources. Part of the frustration of planning officials is the excessive focus on strict legal compliance (mostly with financial management legislation) at the expense of transformation. This report concerns the tricky interplay between two key pieces of legislation that inform and steer spatial transformation initiatives in every municipality, namely the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 (MFMA) and the Spatial Land-Use Management Act 26 of 2013 (SPLUMA). This is not the first time that these Acts have been critically explored. Some work has already been done by National Treasury, among others.


The objective of this study was to provide an alignment and enablement analysis of the two Acts as they impact on spatial transformation practice in municipalities, and to deepen the understanding of their co-existence in relation to municipal practice. In more simplistic terms, the objective was to establish whether or not the demands arising from the co-existence and joint implementation of two diverse pieces of law could be one of the causes of the slow spatial transformation in South African cities, especially those involved in the SACN’s Built Environment Integration Task Team. The combination of desktop research and the inputs of local government officials and practitioners showed that the content, objectives and provisions of the MFMA and SPLUMA are aligned with developmental local government objectives and complement the spatial transformation project of South Africa. The challenge lies not in the letter of the law but may rather lie in the interpretation, application, implementation and enforcement of the legislation – matters that will understandably differ from one municipality to the next and that are matters beyond the control of the law