SA’s 12 big­gest dams

Mail & Guardian - - News -

300ha in the Bush­buck­ridge area of Mpumalanga, says they are like chil­dren to a flame; they don’t know what will hap­pen to them if they are caught with­out a per­mit.

“I know we are meant to have the wa­ter li­cences and I make sure I at­tend the ed­u­ca­tion ses­sions held by Inko­mati Usuthu Catch­ment Man­age­ment Agency. We rely mostly on the dam, but we cur­rently don’t have those per­mits,” he says.

Dur­ing apartheid, white farmers could get per­mits eas­ily, he says. Since things have changed, his co­op­er­a­tive is still look­ing into ap­ply­ing for a per­mit be­cause there is a lot of red tape.

The in­sti­tute’s re­port reads: “Cur­rent li­cens­ing pro­cesses are of­ten costly, very lengthy, bu­reau­cratic and in­ac­ces­si­ble to many South Africans. So these small-scale users are obliged to ap­ply for a per­mit and crim­i­nalised with­out a per­mit but prac­ti­cally un­able to ob­tain a per­mit.”

Janse Ra­bie, the head of nat­u­ral re­sources at AgriSA, agrees that red tape “is cer­tainly an ob­sta­cle for small farmers who want to el­e­vate to the com­mer­cial level”, forc­ing them to ob­tain wa­ter “un­der the radar”.

One of the au­thors of the re­port, Bar­bara Schreiner, from the ad­vi­sory group Pe­gasys In­sti­tute, says one of the im­pli­ca­tions of hav­ing no le­gal right to wa­ter is that small farmers can’t com­pete if the re­source be­comes scarce. Fur­ther­more, smallscale farmers can’t go to the banks to get af­ford­able loans be­cause their risk pro­file is too high and they might be op­er­at­ing il­le­gally, says Schreiner.

Le­gal au­tho­ri­sa­tion en­ables farmers to limit risk to their busi­nesses, be­cause it may be­come dif­fi­cult to sell or re­de­velop their prop­erty if they are not fully com­pli­ant with the Na­tional Wa­ter Act.

Mat­lala says the sys­tem ham­pers the com­pet­i­tive­ness of farmers be­cause they will not be able to make any sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in terms of their yields. “Wa­ter in farm­ing is like gold in the mines. I will never buy a farm if there is no wa­ter.

“If farmers do not have ac­cess to wa­ter, tell me how we are go­ing to make a con­tri­bu­tion to South African agri­cul­ture in terms of our own pro­duc­tion and com­pet­i­tive­ness. This is farm­ing. It mat­ters not if you are white or green. This is farm­ing.”

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