Speech by Deputy Minister Thomson during Greenest Municipality Competition awards ceremony

Bloemfontein municipality, 29 august 2017


The Mayor of Mangaung Metro
MEC B Malakoane: Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environment
Members of the Executive Councils of other provinces
Mayors of Metro and Local Municipalities
All Councilors present
Representatives of Traditional Leadership
Representatives of SALGA
Government Officials from all spheres of government
Members of the media

Ladies and Gentlemen

 Good evening to all of you.

On behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs and all the members of our government in attendance, welcome and thanks to the many of you who have traveled a long way to be here. A special thank you to all our councilors who have joined us for this special occasion. You presence is a demonstration of your commitment to serve your constituents and your understanding that engaging with the provincial and national government is an important requirement of your jobs.

The infrastructure and the services that local communities use every day cannot function without close cooperation and coordination among governments at every level and municipalities represent the level of government with which communities have the most day-to-day contact. For this reason it is important that our municipalities reflects the vision contained in section 24 of our Constitution, which states that “Everyone has the rightto an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; andto have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and futuregenerations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.”

I am encouraged by the fact that more and more South African municipalities are embracing the green economy by implementing long term sustainability policies and strategies in partnership with local communities. 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.

Since its inception, the Greenest Municipality Competition was an important enabler in the transition towards greener municipalities. More than that, the competition has evolved into a significant contributor towards our collective response to the challenges posed by climate change and our path towards a sustainable future. Through the competition we have also strengthened cooperation and coordination across the three spheres of government. Through the implementation of the Local Government Support Strategy for the Environment Sector, hands-on support was provided to municipalities with officials permanently deployed to all District Municipalities. These officials supported municipalities on issues relating to Environmental Governance, Integrated Planning, Natural Resource Management, Green Economy and Climate Change. They also played an important role in managing the Departmental programmes and projects designed to address environmental issues and socio-economic challenges through job creation.

As you know, every competition culminates in the announcement and conferring of prizes to the outstanding achievers and today marks the announcement of the best performing municipalities for the 2016/17 cycle. The biggest winner of this competition is our environment. When the environment wins, we all win because Humans and Nature are in a symbiotic relation – the survival of the one depends on the other.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have now reached the point, which brought us here, the announcement of the winners for the 6th Greenest Municipality Competition.

The GMC was overseen and managed by a panel of adjudicators to ensure high level standards were followed for efficiency and fairness. The Panel of Adjudicators has spent sufficient time at each participating municipality to ensure adequate coverage of all areas of the competition.

The funds for the prizes of the awards were sourced from Environmental Programmes & Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) of the Department and the recipient municipalities will receive the awards in a form of an EPWP project to the value of the award. This of great strategic importance as it encourages municipalities to initiate projects that address environmental issues within their IDPs and links with the objectives of EPIP of creating better environment management practices, creating temporary job opportunities, skills development and SMME development.

I will now announce the winners from the Second Runner-Up, First Runner-Up and the overall Winner of the Local and the Metropolitan Municipality Category respectively.

Starting with the Local Municipality category:

  • The Second Runner up is Hessequa Local Municipality
  • The First Runner up is Govan Mbeki Local Municipality
  • The Overall Winner for the local category is Polokwane Local Municipality.

I now proceed to the Metro category:

  • The Second Runner up is Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality
  • The First Runner up is Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality
  • The Overall Winner for the metro category is City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.

Ladies and gentlemen, as I conclude, I want to reiterate the need for all municipalities to get involved for the betterment of our people. If there are challenges from non-participating municipalities, we should discuss them, find solutions and move forward together.

I would like to congratulate all winners and participants once again for all the efforts made and the efforts you will continue to make to put our country on a path to sustainable development.

Thank you