Section 152 of the Constitution sets out the five focus areas of Municipalities:
1. Provide democratic and accountable government.
2. Provide services in a sustainable manner.
3. Promote social and economic development.
4. Promote a safe and healthy environment.
5. Encourage the involvement of communities.
According to the Municipal Systems Act, a basic service is one that ensures an acceptable and reasonable quality of life with regards to water, sewage, refuse removal, roads and stormwater control, electricity, housing and firefighting.

The limitations of delivery in municipalities

Service delivery is limited when national or provincial government delegate their responsibilities to the local spheres through “unfunded mandates”. Other limits include a shortage of income due to service user’s non-payment, government grants being too little and poor financial management. Other factors include a lack of suitable land, poor cooperation within spheres of government or being in a remote location. Practical circumstances also can limit service delivery.

Learn about how the city of Cape Town and local municipalities in that region found themselves embattled in the wake of  a water crisis in this piece.