Developmental mandate of district municipalities in the Free State : challenges in promoting environmental rights
Mahlatsi, Lehlohonolo Kennedy
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Promotion and existence of a clean environment is a sine qua non for sustained life expectancy. The ushering in of the 1996 Constitution introduced a developmental local government in terms of which the objects of local government include the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner, the promotion of social and economic development, and a safe and healthy environment. These objects, together with the provisions of Bill of Rights enjoin municipalities to promote socio-economic rights on, amongst others, the environment. Realization of these rights, however, depends on the extent to which local government co-operates with other spheres of government in mutual trust and good faith. The scope of the study involved a theoretical exposition of Development Economics and environment; an analysis of the relationship between "environment" and sustainable development; a discourse on the relevance of local government in promoting environmental rights; an evaluation of the capacity and preparedness of District Municipalities in the Free State in promoting environmental rights as enshrined in the Constitution; and co-operative governance as a function in promoting environmental rights. For the purpose of the study the hypothesis was formulated that: the concurrency of jurisdiction and devolution between local government and other spheres of government on environmental issues are not properly managed and resourced to enable district municipalities in the Free State to discharge their environmental development mandate in a manner that is efficient, effective and economical. The study cuts across literature review on primary and secondary sources to an empirical survey that involved a study of lOP content of district municipalities, and a qualitative study with questionnaires on a significant sample population, together with a comparative study on two district municipalities outside the Free State. It was established, amongst others that: * The exclusion of environmental management as a function of district municipalities unnecessarily limits the scope of district municipalities to promote environmental rights; * Local government system puts district municipalities at the cutting edge of delivery of basic services on environmental issues; * There seems to be no direction as to how district municipalities can deal with environmental issues other than municipal health component; * A general lack of capacity and resources from national and provincial governments negatively impacts on the propensity of district municipalities to realize developmental mandate of promoting environmental rights. The study concludes with a set of recommendations for legislative overhaul and for management action in improving the state of environmental care. In addition, it unlocks opportunities for further research on the matter.