Latest proposed amendments to water legislation concerning – AfriForum

DWS still intends to impose radical racial transformation on water users and the provision of water services

AfriForum concerned about latest proposed amendments to water legislation

29 November 2023

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today expressed its deep concern about the Draft National Water Amendment Bill and the Water Services Amendment Bill, which were published for public participation in the Government Gazette on 17 November 2023.

Proposed changes follow the Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS) earlier controversial attempts to issue regulations that aim to make water use licences subject to racial quotas and expropriate recreational water users’ rights. However, these intended regulations were withdrawn at the eleventh hour because they were contrary to the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998).

The latest proposed amendments to the National Water Act and the Water Services Act (Act 108 of 1997) make it clear that the DWS still intends to impose radical racial transformation on water users and the provision of water services. This intended transformation is, among other things, clear in the express requirements that are set in this regard for water use license applications as well as the revocation of existing legal water uses.

Certain elements of the proposed amendments are necessary and commendable, such as the stricter protection of strategic water resource areas; heavier penalties for offences such as pollution of water resources; and the intended regulation of fracking. However, the proposed amendments contain a number of errors, inconsistencies, and unlawful provisions.

Public participation will currently be allowed until 16 January 2024. However, AfriForum maintains that this deadline is unfair and unfeasible as substantial changes are intended by the amendments and it will not provide sufficient time for in-depth and meaningful investigation and experts’ input.

“AfriForum is therefore going to request the minister to extend the period for public participation. The DWS’s strategy to undertake public participation during the festive season for legislation involving such significant changes is disappointing and arouses extreme suspicion,” says Marais de Vaal, AfriForum’s Advisor for Environmental Affairs.

AfriForum has already instructed its legal team to compile complete comments on the amendments.

The proposed legislation and details regarding public comment are available at

Issued by Marais de Vaal, Advisor: Environmental Affairs, AfriForum, 29 November 2023