A critical evaluation of local government air quality management: the Gauteng experience
Environmental governance is complex in South Africa and is subject to a fragmented and ever-changing legislative framework. The National Environmental Management Air Quality Act, No. 39 of 2004 (NEMAQA) was promulgated in 2005 and replaced the 1965 Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, No.45 of 1965 (APPA). The NEMAQA’s management framework promotes a collaborative and integrated approach (between polluters, the public and government) and assigns a strong mandate for air quality management to municipalities as the local sphere of government. The aim of this research was to determine the extent to which local authority is the appropriate sphere of government for air quality management in South Africa. This research focused on two Gauteng metropolitan municipalities namely, City of Tshwane (CoT) and City of Johannesburg (CoJ). According to the 2016 World Health Organisation (WHO) report on air pollution, Tshwane and Johannesburg were ranked amongst the highest air-polluted cities in South Africa. Out of 3000 locations which were monitored for air pollution by the WHO in 2016, Tshwane and Johannesburg were ranked positions 63 and 85 respectively. The methodology for this research was based on questionnaires, interviews, document and literature review. A questionnaire was administered to key local government officials involved in air quality management within these two municipalities and at provincial level. A total of 14 respondents took part in the questionnaire and interviews. The overall outcome of this study suggests that the two municipalities are struggling to fully implement NEMAQA due to financial constraints, capacity issues, political interference, lack of communication amongst and within departments and conflicting policies in various departments that are also contributors to air pollution.