A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
AGRICULTURE, LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
1 June 1998
BRIEFING ON CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE NON-NAVIGATIONAL USES OF INTERNATIONAL WATERCOURSES AND NEGOTIATING AND FINAL MANDATES ON ANIMAL IMPROVEMENT BILL AND WINE AND SPIRIT CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL
A temporary Chairperson welcomed everybody and asked the Department to proceed with a briefing on the Convention on the Non-navigational use of international watercourses.
Tami Sekoto, the Deputy Director General, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, thanked the committee for the opportunity. South Africa was very involved in the convention, and seen as taking an active leading role in finding mechanisms to deal with international watercourses. The convention had been approved by cabinet, the Minister and the National Assembly. The Department would like to maintain the leading role by ratifying as soon as possible.
The convention provides for equitable use by sharing states. The convention encouraged that any user did not negatively affect other nations use, and promoted equitable access to the watercourses. The concept of international obligation was in the National Water Bill, and was in line with the view of SADEC. Increased conflict around the world was expected around shared watercourses, and the convention is a proactive step. The use of water was to be a catalyst for peaceful solutions to conflict.
The Kwazulu Natal delegate asked for examples and issues from South Africa. Mr. Sokutu referred to the Inkomati River Basin which was shared with Swaziland and Mozambique. Farmers from both countries were alleging that water was being prevented from reaching them by a dam upstream in South Africa. The Limpopo River was shared with Zimbabwe, and allegations were made that South Africa was polluting the water and Zimbabwe was having to clean it up. Mr. Sokutu noted that where existing agreements were in place, the convention did not replace these, rather it built around them.
The Free State delegate recommended that the Provinces that shared watercourses should look in depth into the matter, and guide those provinces not affected.
The Northern Province delegate asked whether the convention would prevent neighbouring countries from challenging South Africa. He referred to a situation in Mozambique where polluted water was killing vegetation due to pollution from South Africa.
The Kwazulu Natal delegate noted that the issue was multi-faceted, and asked about input from environment and agricultural representatives.
Mr. Sokutu noted that MinMec had discussed the issues and that there was no need for concern that Provinces were not aware of the issue.
The Free State delegate noted that that only dealt with the executive, and not the legislative body.
A discussion followed on whether the delegates should take the issue back for mandates. It was finally agreed that the issue would be returned to the Provinces for mandates. Due to the desire to have the ratification soon, the department requested the mandates be returned within two weeks. A request was made that a summary containing the issues around the convention be sent to the provinces. Concern was noted that two weeks was not really realistic, as there was a six week cycle in the provinces that did not necessarily fall within the two weeks.
The committee moved on to the Wine and Spirit Control amendment Bill. The provinces expressed gratitude for the extensive and comprehensive document that was prepared on the Bill and sent to the Provinces. The Bill was then passed with 6 of the Provinces having mandates to approve the Bill. The Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng had no mandates.
The meeting moved to the Animal Improvement Bill. Amendments were proposed and the Bill was not finalised. The Bill would be voted on Wednesday the 3 June.
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