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National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)

Environmental Management Plan : Department of Labour

Chapter 1 : Introduction

1.3. Co-Operative Governance and The Constitution



Co-operative governance is a new approach to governance that shifts from a narrow concern with government to a wide range of governance mechanisms, which are concerned with the growing role of associations, different agencies and partnerships, and that reflects the dynamic and interactive nature of coordination.


Starting at government level, there is distinct agreement that no country today can effectively meet its challenges unless the various parts of government:

co-ordinate their activities to avoid wasteful competition and costly duplication;
develop a multi-sectoral perspective on the interests of the country as a whole, and respect the discipline of national goals, policies and operating principles;
settle disputes constructively without resorting to costly and time-consuming litigation;
collectively harness all public resources within a framework of mutual support; and
rationally and clearly divide between them the roles and responsibilities of government, so as to minimise confusion and maximise effectiveness.


The advocation of the model of co-operative governance has found itself embedded within the New Constitution of South Africa. This has been reflected and promoted in the functioning of the various departments within national government.


The need and importance of co-operative governance has been recognized at national level through Chapter 3 of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996), which provides the principles and foundations of such relations.


Some of the key principles of co-operative government and intergovernmental relations as stated in Chapter 3 are highlighted below.


"All spheres of government and all organs of state within each sphere must co-operate with one another in mutual trust and good faith by—

i) fostering friendly relations;
ii) assisting and supporting one another;
iii) informing one another of, and consulting one another on, matters of common interest;
iv) co-ordinating their actions and legislation with one another;
v) adhering to agreed procedures; and
vi) avoiding legal proceedings against one another (Act 108 of 1996)."