n South African Law Journal - The application of assignment and delegation within the context of the National Water Act : the implications for catchment management agencies

Volume 130, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



The establishment of catchment management agencies ('CMAs') is integral to the decentralisation of water resource management. South Africa's water management laws and policies envision that CMAs are in the best position to manage water on a catchment scale, including facilitating participatory decision-making and information sharing between stakeholders. Assignment and delegation are the two main mechanisms by which powers are transferred from the Department of Water Affairs to CMAs, and each has very different legal implications in terms of responsibility and access to funds. However, the National Water Act 36 of 1998 provides little guidance regarding how, when and which of the two should be used. Moreover, within the Department of Water Affairs there are conflicting viewpoints as to whether CMAs should be assigned or delegated functions, and the role that the CMA should play in water management. This lack of clarity is unfortunate and contributes to the delays in establishing and developing fully functioning CMAs. The National Water Act should be amended to provide guidelines to clarify uncertainty about the process of assignment and delegation.

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