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Every year, the Municipal IQ releases their findings on which municipalities rank highest in terms of performance and efficiency. The results are based on Municipal Productivity Index (MPI) which incorporates financial and non-financial data to assess the ability of individuals to engage in local economies; if residents live in acceptable conditions, how vibrant the local economy is and how the municipality is contributing towards the economy.

These are used to decide how various municipalities rank among themselves. Some of the biggest factors that are taken into consideration include capacity requirements, reporting, basic planning, and financial management. Majority of the higher ranked municipalities (8 out of 10) are in the Western Cape. This is a significant factor as it shows where the best livable areas are.

Performance Results for South Africa’s 8 Largest Cities – MPI

  Rank 2013 score Metro ave.
Cape Town 1 65.9 60.3
Tshwane 2 63.4 60.3
Johannesburg 3 63.2 60.3
eThekwini 4 62.1 60.3
Nelson Mandela Bay 5 61.8 60.3
Ekurhuleni 6 58.8 60.3
Mangaung 7 53.7 60.3
Buffalo City 8 53.4 60.3

Cape Town was ranked as one of the best municipalities as well as the friendliest and best cities to visit in South Africa in the recent Annual Reader’s Choice Awards put together by Conde Nast Traveler. Indeed, there is no doubt as to the reason Cape Town tops other cities as one of the best-managed.

Tshwane holds onto the 2nd place in the MPI rankings in 2014. Finance and manufacturing provide most of the income in the Tshwane area. Each of the major banks in the country has offices located in the city of Tshwane and you can also find the embassies of various countries from across the world in the city.

As the second largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg has a lot to offer to both residents and tourists. The popular metro area offers plenty of business opportunities making it a growing economy and with proper management, is sure to be among the top for many years to come.

eThekwini which follows Joburg on the list is regarded as the largest city in KwaZulu Natal province. It is categorized as a metropolitan municipality being that it encompasses large and densely populated and urbanized regions which qualify it to be a metropolis. Found in this municipality are Durban and other large surrounding towns.



Nelson Mandela Bay which was named in honour of Africa’s hero, Nelson Mandela is not left out in the top 10 municipalities. The metro municipality which was formed in 2001 is made up of the Port Elizabeth city and the nearby towns of Uitenhage and Despatch.

Ekurhuleni is also categorized as a Metropolitan municipality. It is home to many Isuzulus who dominate a greater part of its population. Ekurhuleni is blessed with lakes and greenery brimming with a tranquil feel of nature. This municipality is said to harbour the cleanest water bodies in SA.

The great Mangaung Municipality which means a place of Cheetahs is also among the top metropolitan municipalities in the country.

Buffalo City Municipality follows Mangaung in the rankings. Found on the east coast of Eastern Cape Province, Buffalo City is known for its remarkable strides in the auto industry. It is located in the Free State which is bordered by the Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces.

See Also: Map Of South Africa: Geographical and Historical Overview

Best Municipalities in South Africa – Performance by province

Average provincial scores on the MPI shows that Gauteng municipalities narrowly outperform the Western Cape. The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal continue to score the lowest MPI averages (in 8th and 9th place, respectively). See the best municipalities in terms of performance by province.

MPI Rank 2014 Score National Ave.
Gauteng 1 52.8 41.3
Western Cape 2 51.7 41.3
Northern Cape 3 44.4 41.3
Free State 4 43.4 41.3
Mpumalanga 5 42.9 41.3
North West 6 40.4 41.3
Limpopo 7 38.3 41.3
Eastern Cape 8 36.9 41.3
KwaZulu-Natal 9 36.0 41.3

Top 10 Most Productive Local Municipalities

In terms of the best-performing local municipalities, 8 out of 10 top-performing local municipalities are in the Western Cape, one of the best municipalities by province. If you recall, we earlier mentioned that the Western Cape has a majority of the higher ranked municipalities.

Municipalities under this category were carefully selected and categorized based on economic stability as well as the ability of the people to operate productively.

Name Rank 2013 score Local ave.
Overstrand (WC) 1 57.9 40.6
Stellenbosch (WC) 2 57.5 40.6
Steve Tshwete (Mp) 3 57.2 40.6
Saldanha Bay (WC) 4 56.8 40.6
Thabazimbi (Lm) 5 55.6 40.6
Mossel Bay (WC) 6 54.3 40.6
Cape Agulhus (WC) 7 54.1 40.6
Knysna (WC) 8 53.6 40.6
Bitou (WC) 9 53.3 40.6
Drakenstein (WC) 10 53.1 40.6