This week, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa confirmed that a notice of intention to declare hydraulic fracturing - fracking - a controlled activity, had been gazetted for public comment.
Other cabinet members have said recently that shale gas exploration could be authorised before the 2014 elections. And while Molewa says she wants to ensure fracking won't damage South Africa's water resources, critics believe this is impossible.
In South African writer Karen Jayes' critically-acclaimed novel For The Mercy of Water (2012), water has become the single most valuable commodity in a drought-ravaged country, protected by the guards of a sinister "company".
When the poor didn't pay for the water, the company guards shut the pipes off at peak times, or denied them entry into the pump areas and the dams were fenced and put under heavy guard, a character explains.
But closer to the towns, the company placed stoppers - they look like little plastic buttons - inside all the taps so that the water dripped through two tiny eyes and it took seven hours to fill a bucket.
People entered into awful bargains so that each family member might drink and, occasionally, wash. Those who had the...