Orange-Senqu River agreement revised

Home National Orange-Senqu River agreement revised

WINDHOEK – Cabinet has authorised the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to sign on behalf of Namibia the revised Orange-Senqu Watercourse Commission (Orasecom) Agreement and to subsequently table the agreement in Parliament for ratification.

This comes after the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry tabled the Orasecom agreement to Cabinet for deliberations when it was discovered that the said agreement had serious shortcomings which needed amendments.
The Orange-Senqu River basin is the largest river basin in Africa, south of the Zambezi River basin.
This transboundary water resource covers large portions of South Africa and Lesotho as well as southern regions of Botswana and Namibia.

The Orasecom was established by the governments of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa through the “Agreement for the Establishment of the Orange-Senqu Commission” on 3 November 2000 in Windhoek. 
The Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Stanley Simataa explained this is an agreement which regulates how these nations should use the water of the Orange River. 
He said although the agreement has been into force since 2000, there are quite a number of both policy and institutional issues that necessitated the review. 

“Hence the agreement is being reviewed. There is no agreement which is casting stones. Overtime, any agreement given the dynamism of the environment in which agreements are implemented, any agreement need to be revised,” he said.
Simataa revealed the agreement was found not to provide some pertinent things. These he says the agreement does not clearly indicate intentions it is envisioned to achieve. The other limitation is that the agreement does not contain definitions of terms contained in it, as a legal binding document should be designed. Equally, he said the ministers responsible for water affairs in the countries sharing the Orange River were not included in the hierarchy of the decision-making process. 
Simataa noted this is in spite the fact that these ministers are required where possible to secure their involvements.
Further, he said, the agreement does not clearly stipulate the distinctions between the powers, functions and roles of the commission or council.

“The establishments of task teams in the agreement were also not provided for. For any agreement to come into force, usually such agreements need to be ratified-taken through Cabinet and then tabled in Parliament for ratification. These are some of the issues that were not provided for in the agreement. Therefore, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry tabled these revisions and Cabinet deliberated and endorsed them. Hence, the minister will now table this revised agreement in Parliament for ratification,” he explained. 

Simataa said Cabinet also directed the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to effect the ratification and deposit the instrument of ratification with the depository on behalf of Namibia.
Urban development over recent decades, and the corresponding development of water infrastructure have made the Orange-Senqu River basin “the most developed river basin in southern Africa”.

The Preamble to the Agreement recognises the “Orange-Senqu River System as a major water resource in the region”, committing the four Member States “towards the realisation of the principle of equitable and reasonable utilisation, as well as the principle of sustainable development with regard to the river system”.
The goals of Orasecom are to develop a comprehensive perspective of the basin; study the present and planned future uses of the river system and determine the requirements for flow monitoring and flood management.