The best and worst-run municipalities in South Africa

 ·26 Mar 2024

Good Governance Africa (GGA) has published its 2024 Governance Performance Index (GPI) to “provide the most accurate, publicly available portrait of the state of local governance in South Africa.”

The report looked at all of South Africa’s 257 municipalities, which is made up of:

  • 8 metropolitans municipalities;
  • 205 category B local municipalities;
  • 44 category C district municipalities.

For the 2024 GPI, municipalities were evaluated from publicly available data under the following categories:

  • Administration & Governance;
  • Leadership & Management;
  • Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation;
  • Service Delivery (heaviest weighting).

The 8 metropolitan municipalities were evaluated with an additional category of Economic Development.

These were rated on standardised on a scale of 1 to 5 – with 5 being optimal performance.

It is important to note that the extensive list of data used by GGA predominantly comes from 2021-22 reports, with its most recent coming from 2023.


This report comes at a time when “South Africa’s system of local government is presently undergoing its most widespread sequences of changes” since the dawn of democracy, said GGA.

The 2021 local government elections saw a record number of hung councils, where no single party achieved a majority. This has seen a rise in political instability in many councils, which has led to national departments wanting to amend legislation which governs them.

According to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), “political instability impacting the effective functioning of administration” and service delivery have been some of the most commonly identified issues of local government by residents.

There are 32 municipalities across the country that are currently under administration, with 66 out of 257 being labelled as ‘dysfunctional.’

These shifts in the focus and functioning of many local governments “raise the question of how South Africa’s existing municipal system is currently performing when considering the role the Constitution envisages for local authorities,” said GGA.

Provincial results

Looking at the GPI scores, the countrywide average sits at a score of 3.24/5.

The provincial average scores (out of 5) given in the report are:

ProvinceService DeliveryAdmin & GovernancePlanning, Monitoring & Evaluation Leadership & ManagementOverall 2024 GPI Score
Eastern Cape3.463.
Free State3.172.322.922.412.79
Northern Cape3.202.442.672.282.78
North West3.092.112.602.022.59
Western Cape4.034.064.344.224.11

Citizen satisfaction levels with municipalities are notably low, with the countrywide average sitting at 30%.

The Western Cape had the highest level of satisfied respondents, at 43%. This is 9% higher than the joint second, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, at 34%.

The lowest score is in the North West, at a 19% satisfaction rate.


The country’s eight metropolitan municipalities “govern areas inhabited by 40% of South Africa’s population, highlighting their importance” within the system of local government, said GGA.

Since the 2021 local government elections, many metropolitan municipalities, characterised by their hung councils, have garnered significant media attention due to political instability.

This instability in metropolitans, “especially… within the economically dominant Gauteng province where no single party commands a majority,” has been reflected in the GPI scores.

The report isolated Tshwane and Johannesburg as examples, saying that both metros “performed in a manner that belies their major city status.”

According to the GPI rankings, the metros’ performances are:

RankingMetroTypeTop GPIBottom GPI
1City of Cape TownMajority party councilService Delivery Economic Development
2EkurhuleniHung councilLeadership & ManagementEconomic Development
3eThekwiniHung councilEconomic Development Administration & Governance
4Nelson Mandela BayHung councilService DeliveryLeadership & Management
5City of JohannesburgHung councilService DeliveryPlanning, Monitoring & Evaluation
6Buffalo CityMajority party councilService DeliveryLeadership & Management
7City of TshwaneHung councilService DeliveryLeadership & Management
8MangaungMajority party councilEconomic DevelopmentLeadership & Management

Mangaung, Tshwane, Buffalo City, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay all scored GPI rankings below the metropolitan average.

Tshwane received an alarming 1/5 for leadership.

While the GPI ranks some major metros highly for stable governance and leadership in 2021/22, it should be noted that many of these have proven to be less stable in subsequent years.

For example, while Ekurhuleni scored 5/5 for its leadership in the ranking, the metro’s governance structure fell apart in 2023 when the DA-led coalition was ousted. Currently, the metro faces more chaotic shifts, with the current mayor (AIC) and speaker (EFF) facing a motion of no confidence.

The local and district municipalities will be looked at in terms of their overall rankings rather than the GPI score.

Local municipalities

There are 205 local municipalities (LM), divided into:

  • 19 Secondary City Local Municipalities;
  • 26 Large Town Local Municipalities;
  • 99 Small Town Local Municipalities;
  • 61 Mostly Rural Local Municipalities.

Looking at the 19 Secondary City Local Municipalities, the rankings are:

RankingDistrict MunicipalityProvince
1Drakenstein LMWestern Cape
2Stellenbosch LMWestern Cape
3uMhlathuze LMKwaZulu-Natal
4Steve Tshwete LMMpumalanga
5George LMWestern Cape

15Govan Mbeki LMMpumalanga
16Msunduzi LMKwaZulu-Natal
17Emfuleni LMGauteng
18Matjhabeng LMFree State
19Madibeng LMNorth West

Looking at the 26 Large Town Local Municipalities, the rankings are:

RankingDistrict MunicipalityProvince
1Saldanha Bay LMWestern Cape
2Breede Valley LMWestern Cape
3Overstrand LMWestern Cape
4Midvaal LMGauteng
5Mossel Bay LMWestern Cape

22Emakhazeni LMMpumalanga
23Enoch Mgijima LMEastern Cape
24Dihlabeng LMFree State
25Makana LMEastern Cape
26Mahikeng LMNorth West

Looking at the 99 Small Town Local Municipalities, municipalities in the Western Cape took up a lion’s share of the top spots, while municipalities in the Northern Cape and North West made up much of the lower rankings.

The rankings are:

RankingDistrict MunicipalityProvince
1Swartland LMWestern Cape
2Bergriver LMWestern Cape
3Hessequa LMWestern Cape
4Witzenberg LMWestern Cape
5Cape Agulhas LMWestern Cape

95Kamiesberg LMNorthern Cape
96Naledi LMNorth West
97Maquassi Hills LMNorth West
98Siyathemba LMNorthern Cape
99!Kheis LMNorthern Cape

Of the 61 Mostly Rural Municipalities, the lowest performing ones were seen in the North West, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga while Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal recorded some of the best.

The rankings show:

RankingDistrict MunicipalityProvince
1Blouberg LMLimpopo
2Winnie Madikizela-Mandela LMEastern Cape
3Elundini LMEastern Cape
4Okhahlamba LMKwaZulu-Natal
5Mnquma LMEastern Cape

57Dr. JS Moroka LMMpumalanga
58Kagisano-Molopo LMNorth West
59Moretele LMNorth West
60Ratlou LMNorth West
61Joe Morolong LMNorthern Cape

District municipalities

Looking at the 44 district municipalities, these rankings are divided into 23 ‘Non-Water Services Authority (WSA) Districts’ as well as 21 ‘Water Services Authority Districts’.

Simply, the former do not have water supply and sanitation responsibilities, with their role largely limited “to planning, regulation and development facilitation, with questionable value for money,” said the report.

Non-WSA districts typically score higher (on average 0.91 GPI points) than municipalities with WSAs.

The 21 WSAs lie in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the North West, “servicing approximately 20 million South Africans.”

Looking at the 23 non-WSAs, the rankings are:

RankingDistrict MunicipalityProvince
1Cape Winelands DMWestern Cape
2West Coast DMWestern Cape
3Garden Route DMWestern Cape
4Overberg DMWestern Cape
5Frances Baard DMNorthern Cape
19Fezile Dabi DMFree State
20Thabo Mofutsanyana DMFree State
21Xhariep DMFree State
22Bojanala Platinum DMNorth West
23Sedibeng DMGauteng

The rankings of the 21 WSAs are:

RankingDistrict MunicipalityProvince
1Joe Gqabi DMEastern Cape
2uMgungundlovu DMKwaZulu-Natal
3Capricorn DMLimpopo
4King Cetshwayo DMKwaZulu-Natal
5iLembe DMKwaZulu-Natal
17uMzinyathi DMKwaZulu-Natal
18Mopani DMLimpopo
19Amathole DMEastern Cape
20Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati DMNorth West
21Ngaka Modiri Molema DMNorth West

Read: South Africa’s 32 most ‘dysfunctional’ municipalities

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