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The greenest municipalities in SA

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The Department of Environmental Affairs has announced the 2017 winners of its annual greenest municipality competition. This competition has replaced the cleanest town competition, and looks at factors like waste management; energy efficiency and conservation; water management; landscaping, tree planting and beautification; and public participation and institutional arrangements.

Greenest municipality in saThe overall winner was the City of Johannesburg, winning R3.5 million, while Polokwane won the District and the Provincial chapters of the competition. Polokwane also walked away with R3.5 million.

“This is an important development for our country because it demonstrates an increasing awareness and realization that our prosperity as a country is inextricably connected to the well-being of our environment. Waste management is a concurrent function amongst all spheres of government, with a clear mandate derived from constitution requirements of ensuring safe and healthy environment that is not harmful to the well-being of the citizens of the country,” Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Barbara Thomson, said at the awards ceremony.

The winning municipalities will receive their award money through funding of infrastructure projects “aimed at the protection of the environment”. While the City of Johannesburg has been the most fiscally responsible municipality for the past few years, according to audits, many of the other winners have financial clouds hanging over them – some, for mismanagement of funds and others for corruption.

The runners up in the metropolitan municipality category were Mangaung and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality. The local municipality runners up were Govan Mbeki and Hessequa Local Municipality.

Earlier this year, the auditor-general’s (AG) report on the financial performance of municipalities found a marginal improvement for 2015/16, and called for leadership accountability in the management of municipal affairs. While there are municipalities that work with the AG’s office in compiling the report and correct mistakes that were picked up during the auditing process, there are others where officials provide no records to show how they were spending taxpayers’ money.

According to the report, the amount of irregular expenditure increased by just over 50%, rising from R11.1-billion in the previous report to R16.8-billion in 2015/16. This is the highest recorded amount since the AG started tracking the numbers.

In light of this, the greenest municipality competition might be a bigger problem than a boon: The citizens of those municipalities that are managing their money effectively will receive services to make their cities even cleaner; those that are prone to over-spending and wasteful expenditure will now have a little more in the kitty. Time will tell whether the winnings will be invested in the right initiatives.

Image credit: Copyright: solerf / 123RF Stock Photo

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