Those who have been waiting in anticipation for the hearing date of the appeals in the matter concerning the transferability of water use entitlements have finally found sweet relief.
According to a statement released by Agri SA, the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has set 20 August 2021 as the date for the hearing of appeals in three matters.
The appeals follow on the Pretoria high court’s judgement on 19 June, 2020. Here, the court ruled in favour of the department of water and sanitation’s view that the transfer of a water use entitlement is not permissible due to it being comparable to the privatisation of water.
The matters before the court include Casper Johannes Lotter N.O. & Others v The Minister of Water and Sanitation & Others; Francois Johannes Gerhardus Wiid N.O. & Others v The Minister of Water and Sanitation & Others; and South African Association for Water Users Associations & Others v The Minister of Water and Sanitation & Others.
According to the national water act, Mzansi’s water resources belong to all and it is the minister of water affairs’ job to act in the capacity of a public trustee.
Agri SA (who is financing the Lotter and Wiid matters from its Voluntary Water Fund) and the South African Association for Water Users Associations (SAAFWUA) are of the view that the provisions of section 25 of the National Water Act are vital with respect to the efficient use of water.
Section 25(1) of the act allows for the transfer of entitlements to use irrigation water from one person to another and from one property to another under strict conditions by water management institutions.
Section 25(2) of the Act allows the surrendering of a specific water use entitlement from the same resource in respect of other land in order to facilitate a water use licence application.
“Agri SA is of the view that the determination of this matter, which has been ongoing since 2018 and which has had a stifling effect on the agricultural sector, is long overdue. We look forward to the matter being argued before the Supreme Court of Appeal,” says Janse Rabie, head of Agri SA’s natural resources centre of excellence.