Secondary Cities in South Africa

Historically, the SACN has concentrated on the eight metropolitan municipalities and Msunduzi and, in 2012, began research into secondary, or intermediate cities. This research responds to the need to deepen the understanding of these cities in order to be able to have different planning, finance and institutional support for different settlement categories.


  • Rethinking LED "Local Economic Development" in Intermediate Cities is the fifth in SACN's research series on differentiated approaches to governance carried out with the Universitty of Free State, this time in partnership with SALGA. Based on the premise that intermediate cities have an important role to play in regional, rural and national development, the research explored "LED" within intermediate cities, using a combination of desktop research, participatory action research, and case studies of three local municipalities: Mangaung, Rustenburg and Sol Plaatje. Read the full report here.

Case Studies


Hidden Urbanities: South Africa's Displaced Settlements 30 Years after the Abolition of Influx Control is the third in  a series of exploratory papers (I Secondary Cities; II Outside the Core) that seeks to understand and give practical expression of what is meant by the 'differentiated approach to governanc.'' This study delves deeper into four case studies of apartheid's displaced settlements to examine the likely need for more nuanced articulation of differentiation at a sub-municipal level.



SACN and SALGA cooperated with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), in partnership with The Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) of eThekwini Municipality, organised an Intermediary Cities Learning Exchange. The event was held on 18-20 March 2013 hosted by the KwaDukuza Municipality in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZNCOGTA) and the Newcastle Municipality.