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 However, these intended regulations were withdrawn at the eleventh hour because they were contrary to the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998).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.