By-laws are a key part of South Africa’s local government system but are, in many municipalities, difficult to find and use. Together with Cape Agulhas Municipality, we have launched a new website for the Cape Agulhas by-laws:
The new website has a number of benefits:
- readers can find up-to-date versions of the Cape Agulhas by-laws online;
- the by-laws are easy to read and use, including on your phone;
- readers can download PDF copies of the by-laws for offline use.
The by-laws are available in official English and Afrikaans versions (where available). We also make it clear when and where a by-law was first published, when it became law, and how it has been amended.
In addition, many by-laws define specific terms that have a particular meaning in the context of the by-law. We show these terms in bold and provide popup definitions wherever they are used.
Why do by-laws matter?
By-laws are local laws, passed by the municipality, that manage many aspects of our day-to-day lives - both where we live and where we work. For example, they control the sale of alcohol, what pets you can keep and the running of small businesses. They also impact how the municipality provides services, such as the supply of electricity and water, and the removal of refuse.
In many ways, by-laws regulate how communities live, work and play together. While many people know that by-laws exist, most people don’t know where to find them. The new Cape Agulhas by-laws website changes that.
Now, residents are empowered to understand what laws affect them, and their rights and responsibilities. This raises awareness of local legislation in general, which helps with enforcement, understanding and access to the law.
How the municipality benefits
Municipalities are required by the Municipal Systems Act (Act 32 of 2000) to make an up-to-date collection of their by-laws available to the public. Many municipalities, especially smaller ones, lack the capacity and skills to do this effectively. The new website helps to make Cape Agulhas Municipality compliant with this requirement, while at the same time benefiting residents, municipality staff and law enforcement.
In addition, during the partnership we discovered some descrepencies with the by-laws and have provided Cape Agulhas Municipality with guidance on how to resolve them.
The Cape Agulhas Municipality website already had a small section on by-laws. However, not all by-laws were listed and many were out of date. As part of the partnership, we provided Drupal training to Cape Agulhas Municipality staff. This enabled them to make key adjustments to their website, including adding a link to the new, up-to-date by-laws website.
Do you know your by-laws?
This partnership is linked to OpenUp’s Open By-laws project, which aims to improve access to by-laws for all municipalities.
Do you know how many dogs you can own? Do you know what to do if you don’t receive water or electricity from your municipality? Check your municipal by-laws. If you’d like to partner with OpenUp to make your by-laws more accessible, please email us at [email protected].