4.5 Co-operative governance

The Constitution requires the spheres of government and organs of state to exercise their powers and functions in a mutually supportive and cooperative manner. The existing intergovernmental systems for coordinating environmental management provide the basis for cooperative governance in relation to waste management. These structures are:

  • MINMEC: Environment is a standing intergovernmental body consisting of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, members of the provincial Executive Councils (MECs) responsible for environmental management functions, and SALGA. MINMEC meets quarterly.
  • MINTEC: Environment is a standing intergovernmental body that gives technical input to MINMEC. MINTEC consists of the Director-General of the DEA, the heads of the provincial departments responsible for environmental management functions, and SALGA. MINTEC also meets quarterly.
  • Committee for Environmental Co-ordination was established in terms of Section 7 of NEMA. The object of the Committee is to integrate environmental functions of the relevant organs of state, and to coordinate the environmental implementation plans and environmental management plans of departments and provinces. This is the appropriate forum to align the activities of DEA with other government departments, and to integrate the national IWMP into departments' strategic plans. The Waste Act specifies areas that require co-operative governance: waste management licensing, integrated waste management plans, waste minimisation, regulations and compliance and enforcement.

A waste management licence may only be issued with the required approvals from other organs of state that are legally mandated to consent to that activity53. Furthermore, the Act provides for integrated licensing by means of an integrated environmental authorisation as contemplated in NEMA section 24L. Integrated licences are required for waste management activities that also affect air or water quality. DEA, DWA and MECs will collaborate to issue integrated licences.

IWMPs will mainstream waste management in local government. The MEC for local government and the MEC for environment will support and monitor the development and implementation of integrated waste management plans. DEA will consult with the Department of Co-operative Governance to develop guidelines for these plans.

In terms of industry regulation and economic measures, a number of issues raised in the NWMS require coordination between the DEA and the Departments of Trade and Industry and the National Treasury. A dedicated co-ordinating committee will be established to address the application of the South African Technical Infrastructure; the declaration of priority wastes and EPR schemes; the implications of the Consumer Protection Act; recycling schemes and the implications for competition policy; and incentives for cleaner production. The committee will also evaluate proposals that promote reduction, re-use, recycling or recovery of waste, as well as their economic impact.

In land remediation, coordination is particularly important because this is a concurrent mandate. An existing Government Task Team comprising the Departments of Mineral Resources, Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs focuses on mine closures and addresses remediation after mining activities. The mandate of this committee will be broadened to address remediation in its entirety. DEA will convene and provide the secretariat for this committee.

MINTEC Working Group 4 deals with compliance and enforcement, and it will clarify clarifying the roles and responsibilities of EMIs at national, provincial and local levels. EMIs coordinate their activities closely with the South African Police Services (SAPS), who play a crucial role in enforcing environmental legislation. In terms of NEMA, all police officers also have the powers of an EMI. EMIs cannot prosecute cases in court, so the results of their investigations are handed over to staff at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute. The Department of Environmental Affairs and the NPA will collaborate to ensure the successful prosecution of environmental crimes.


  1. Section 44 of the Waste Act.