AfriForum opposes intended racial quotas for water use

The civil rights organisation AfriForum and its legal team are preparing comments against the intended changes to water legislation that will require 75% black ownership of businesses that require a water use licence. This follows after the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) published revised draft regulations on water use licences.

According to the draft regulations, applications to license the extraction of ground or surface water, the storage of water in a dam and the performance of stream flow reduction activities (such as forestry) will henceforth only be considered by the DWS if the company applying for it meets certain racial quotas. The required percentage of black shareholding will apparently be determined by the annual volume of water that will be extracted or stored by the user or the land area that will be used for forestry.

These changes are not well thought through and AfriForum is concerned that other important requirements in the application process may be overshadowed for the sake of affirmative action.

“The government has a constitutional duty to manage and protect the country’s water resources in a sustainable manner. While South Africa is a water-scarce country, water infrastructure is crumbling across the country and we are heading for a crisis, transformation is being used as a smokescreen behind which the DWS’s failures hide,” says Marais de Vaal, AfriForum’s advisor for Environmental Affairs.

De Vaal further says that since state organs and the mining sector are exempt from these regulations, the impression is created that the DWS is making a targeted effort to make the agricultural and forestry sectors’ water use subject to racial quotas.

AfriForum will oppose these intended amendments and has already instructed its legal team to investigate the legality thereof.

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