Connect with us


Controversy Surrounds Criticism of Race-Based Water Licence Allocation



Janse Rabie, legal and policy executive at Agri SA, has expressed concerns about the potentially devastating impact of the proposed water licence regulations on South Africa’s commercial sector, food security, and job creation if implemented as currently drafted.

Rabie pointed out that the majority of farmers already possess water rights as reported by Farmer’s Weekly. However, he feared that compulsory licensing of existing lawful water uses, as envisioned by the Department, might be used against them when applying for water licences under the proposed regulations.

He also criticised the attempt to replace the current 10 considerations for granting licences, which include factors such as efficient water use, socio-economic impact, and previous investments made by water users. Rabie noted that agriculture and forestry appeared to be the main targets of the regulations, while mining, state entities, and 100% black-owned entities seemed to be exempt.

Also Read: Water pressure issue resolved at Helen Joseph Hospital

While Agri SA acknowledges the importance of an inclusive agricultural sector, Rabie argued that these regulations are unlikely to further transformation. True transformation, he stated, requires a conducive environment for growth, investment, and meaningful support for new entrants.


Theo de Jager, executive director of the Southern African Agri Initiative, described the proposal as both practically impossible and morally unjustifiable. He expressed concerns that the regulations would regress South Africa’s business environment to a discredited race-based paradigm, hindering competitiveness and efficiency.

Dr Sandile Ndlungwane, North West executive for the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, supported the idea behind the proposal, emphasising the need for water reform. He believed that the intention was not to take away existing water rights but to prioritise transformation when allocating remaining and new water resources.

Ndlungwane did not anticipate negative effects on farm sales, citing a Constitutional Court ruling that supported the temporary or permanent transfer of water-use entitlements under the Water Act.

The Department of Water and Sanitation explained in a press release that the primary aim of the proposal was to address the racial disparity in water use, which heavily favoured the historically advantaged group. The Department highlighted that the majority of water allocations were based on old entitlements and that the proposed regulations aimed to rectify this imbalance.

The public has until 18 July 2023 to comment on the proposed Revision of Regulations regarding the Procedural Requirements for Water-Use Licence Applications and Amendments, as announced by the Department of Water and Sanitation.


Also Read: 

City of Johannesburg to recruit 2,000 crime-prevention wardens – announces Gwamanda

Follow us on Google News

Photo by Steve Johnson

Continue Reading