An analysis of agenda setting : the management of the New England road landfill site in the Msunduzi Municipality.
The constitutional democracy in South Africa, ushered in by the first democratic elections of 1994, has opened up opportunities for the rise of various issues that were previously marginalised. The current political dispensation, supported by new progressive legislation, has rendered reckless management of waste management unacceptable. As a result, the management of waste, particularly the dominant landfill site waste management facilities, has come under increasing scrutiny from civil society organisations, the public and affected communities. Whilst the new constitutional order has demarcated responsibility for the management of solid waste, reality indicates that in spite of various legislative attempts to ensure the institutionalisation of sound and integrated waste management, solid waste is still poorly managed by responsible authorities. It has also been evident that many municipalities in South Africa still rely on the problematic landfill sites as the dominant waste disposal facility, this despite the obvious environmental problems that land filling engenders. It has been noted that waste problems are still marginalised from the mainstream development initiatives of responsible municipalities. The poor management of solid waste and the negation of responsibility, as in the case in the Msunduzi Municipality, are indicative of the politics involved in the identification of policy issues that government attends to from the available pool of existing social concerns. The failure to find policy solutions to identified waste problems in the Msunduzi Municipality has provoked questions around how policy issues negotiate their way onto the government agenda. The biggest issue from a public policy perspective is how does government decide on which issues they will address amongst the numerous and equally pressing social problems that warrant government attention. Using Kingdon‟s agenda-setting theory, this dissertation found that problem definition, policy dynamics and political interests all play influential roles in the agenda status of social problems and whether they are addressed or not. As a result, the study argues that there must be positive interaction between the three, problem, policy and political streams, in order to produce a solution to the policy issues of waste management in the Msunduzi Municipality.