Ekurhuleni Metro has added a feather in its cap by being announced the overall winner in the Greenest Municipalities Competition, walking away with prize money of R3.5 million. eThekwini was the first runner-up and walked away with R3 million, while the City of Cape Town was the second runner up and scooped R2.5 million. At local municipality level, Greater Tzaneen topped the category, bagging the R3.5 million prize money. It was followed by Newcastle and Drakenstein, which walked away with R3 million and R2.5 milllion respectively. The winners were announced by Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi during an award ceremony held at Marianhill Landfill Site, Durban, on Friday. The prize money has to be utilised for projects that promote environment related projects and green economy initiatives. A total of 111 metropolitan and local municipalities had entered the completion.
The Greenest Municipality Competition (GMC) started its life as the Cleanest Town Competition (CTC), with a primary focus on implementing the National Waste Management Strategy. According to the ministry, the competition is premised on reducing, recycling and reusing waste materials. Although these principles are still relevant, other elements related to sustainable development and various greening interventions have been added. “Our Green Economy Plan emphasizes the implementation of measures to strengthen and expand our economic growth through recycling and enterprise development, so that we can generate and sustain jobs as well as formalise existing jobs in the waste area as part of the economy,” said Mabudafhasi.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has conducted numerous studies that have clearly illustrated the capacity constraints experienced by municipalities in delivering waste services in terms of landfill operations, waste collection planning and administration, and refuse collection. The deputy minister said the department was planning to bridge the capacity gap by involving community members as partners and ambassadors in the process of solving the environmental challenges in general and waste challenges in particular. “The low levels of capacity in municipalities present an excellent opportunity for the creation of jobs, on-the-job training, continuous up-skilling as well as enterprise development for the youth. “An estimated 3 577 jobs will be created by placing young people in municipalities, where they will work as landfill site assistants, waste collection administrators and environmental awareness educators,” said Mabudafhasi.