Municipalities: Post-2000
November 2006

Since 2000, local government has consisted of 284 municipalities: 6 metropolitan, 47 district, and 231 local. Most of the pre-2000 councils have been abolished, but a few have survived in altered form. A few municipalities have taken over the arms of their predecessors, but since 2002 several dozen have registered entirely new arms. The process of creating new municipal arms will no doubt continue for several years to come.

Many of the new arms are complicated, with numerous charges and "special effects" to simulate landscape (and correspondingly lengthy blazons). Three new mural crowns have been designed: one rustic, one rustic with wooden palisades, and one metal with palisades. They have not been linked to specific categories of municipality.

A selection of the new municipal arms.

District Municipalities
The district municipalities are the successors to the district councils (originally regional services councils), and a few have retained their old RSC arms. The pattern for new DM arms includes birds as supporters, and several have mural crowns of one type or another.

More than half are displayed on African shields, such as those of the Ehlanzeni DM (BoH 2002), which are On an Nguni oxhide shield Sable in the dexter flank pied at random to base Argent, in chief a demi-bezant with eleven rays issuant to chief Or, therebeneath ten pairs of shield thongs fesswise in pale counterchanged. As the rising sun suggests, this district is in the eastern part of the country.

Others, like the Kgalagadi DM, use a European shield: Per fess Azure and Gules, a cross of chemical symbols for iron fitchy Or surmounted in base by a fountain (BoH 2002). Iron ore is mined in this district. ("Kgalagadi" was previously spelled "Kalahari").

Local Municipalities
The local municipalities each administer several towns. A few have taken over the arms of their predecessors, but already four dozen have registered new arms. The Bureau of Heraldry has not allowed them supporters, but a few have feathers or leaves flanking the shields instead. More than half the new arms are depicted on African shields.

The arms of Amahlati Municipality (Stutterheim) present a stylised landscape: Per fess dancetty enhanced firtree-topped Argent and Vert, in fess two aloe trees Or flowered Gules and in base on a chevron Argent a base Vert thereupon a traditional Xhosa hut proper; a chief dancetty Azure and a bordure Gules (BoH 2004).

Those of Nketoana (Reitz) have an agricultural theme: Argent, shod Azure, upon a droplet of the last a maize cob Or leaved Vert between in the flanks two ears of wheat Or (BoH 2005). The "shod" (a.k.a. "chaussé") partition is fairly rare in South African heraldry.

The arms of Thaba Chweu (Lydenburg) also suggest a landscape: Per fess dancetty Azure and Argent, a fess the upper edge fir-tree-topped of three Vert between, in chief issuant from the upper shield a demi-sun Or and in base paly wavy of six Azure and Argent (BoH 2004).

Those of Umngeni (Howick) may be intended to represent a local waterfall which is a tourist attraction: Per bend inclined in the flanks per fess Argent and Vert, surmounting the partition a bend per bend inclined in the flanks per fess Azure and Argent, in sinister chief a stick and knobkierie in saltire surmounted by an indigenous clay pot proper, and in base a bar wavy Argent charged with another wavy Azure, conjoined to a base wavy Azure (BoH 2005).

Metropolitan Councils
Of the six metropolitan councils, only Johannesburg is armigerous (it bears the city's 1997 arms). The Ekurhuleni (Germiston/East Rand) and Nelson Mandela (Port Elizabeth) metros have adopted pseudo-arms, while the other three - Cape Town, Ethikweni (Durban), and Tshwane (Pretoria) - use logos.

References/Sources/Links
Various Government Gazettes since 2002

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