The municipal council consists of sixteen members elected by mixed-member proportional representation. Eight councillors are elected by first-past-the-post voting in eight wards, while the remaining eight are chosen from party lists so that the total number of party representatives is proportional to the number of votes received. In the election of 3 August 2016 the African National Congress (ANC) won a majority of eleven seats on the council. The following table shows the results of the election.
The municipality derives its name from the 250 km (160 mi) long Sundays River, the fastest flowing river in South Africa. The river winds its way through the Zuurberg mountains and passes Kirkwood in the fertile Sundays River Valley; it empties into the Indian Ocean at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth.
To the north of Kirkwood lies the Rietberg mountain with the Uyepoort (Uye gateway) that provides passage to the Zuurberg mountains and the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. A panoramic view of Kirkwood and the orange groves is visible from The Lookout. The Lookout is also known as a site where large dinosaur fossils have been dug up by archeologists. The first complete dinosaur fossil to be found in South Africa, nicknamed "Kirky," was found not far from Kirkwood.