Members of Parliament have called for private-owned dams in the country to be transferred to the Department of Water and Sanitation.
This comes after acting chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on water and sanitation Hlomane Chauke alerted the committee that out of 4000 dams, only 350 were owned by the government.
“We want to know who is this one that has so much water and the remaining 3000 dams. Who is in control of those dams. We have a drought crisis here but some dams are privately owned. This is something that is political and we have to resolve it. It cannot be that when so many of our people, you see them with containers every day,” said Chauke.
MPs wanted to know who were the farmers who owned dams, which this week released water into the Western Cape Water Supply System to alleviate the drought gripping Cape Town and surrounding areas.
Last week, farming community from the Elgin/Grabouw Valley released water from Eikenhof Dam, on the Palmiet River in Grabouw. The water is expected to sustain visitors and residents for about 20 days. This resulted in day zero being pushed back to mid-May.
Chauke also questioned why a large amount of water available for the Western Cape was allocated to the agriculture sector while farmers had private dams.
He reminded the committee that they are lawmakers and were capable of dealing with anything that seems “not normal”.
“We are informed that the 78% of the water that is under the control of department goes to agriculture, with only 23% going to domestic and only 3% going to industry which is mining and others,” said Chauke.
He said the committee will engage on the matter and find a way, including legislative intervention, to ensure that all dams are state-owned.
National Freedom Party MP Sibusiso Mncwabe proposed that the committee look into the licenses of owners of private dams and have the state take over the dams.
“We should all be benefiting from the natural resource. Ministers must start appropriation of land with that land where the dams are. We appreciate their donation but it is not a correct thing to have people deciding whether to give you a natural resource or not,” said Mncwabe.