With South Africa gearing up for the national elections in May, government is currently preparing to push through a number of amendments and new pieces of legislation.
The biggest of these changes will undoubtedly be the amendment of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
At its last sitting in 2018, the National Assembly established an Ad Hoc Committee to initiate and introduce a constitutional amendment and report back to the House by 31 March 2019.
However, there have already been some doubts cast as to whether this change will be officially promulgated before the legislature dissolves ahead of the elections.
Other amendments could also come to pass, with a number of parliamentary committees calling for public comment on some of the amendments and new pieces of legislation they are looking to introduce.
BusinessTech looked at four of these important new laws below.
Draft Expropriation Bill
The Minister of Public Works has invited members of the public to submit written submissions on the 2019 Draft Expropriation Bill.
Submissions must be received by no later than 22 February 2019.
Published on 21 December, the amended Expropriation Bill is largely similar to current expropriation laws – including how compensation should be calculated, urgent expropriation (like in the case of natural disasters), the interest payable on compensation and the formalities of identifying which land is suitable for expropriation.
However, the new bill also introduces a new section which explicitly states when it would be fair and equitable to withhold compensation.
These circumstances include:
- Land occupied by a labour tenant as under the Restitution of Land Rights Act;
- Land that has been purchased for ‘speculative’ purposes;
- Land owned by a state-owned enterprise;
- Land which has been abandoned by a landowner;
- When the market value of the land is equal or less than the present value of direct state investment or subsidisation for the purchase of beneficial capital improvement of the land.
The Select Committee on Security and Justice has invited members of the public to submit written submissions on the Cybercrimes Bill.
Submissions must be received by no later than 8 March 2019.
The Cybercrimes Bill seeks to:
- Create offences which have a bearing on cybercrime;
- Criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders;
- Impose obligations to report cybercrimes;
- Provide that the Executive may enter into agreements with foreign States to promote measures aimed at the detection, prevention, mitigation and investigation of cybercrimes amongst other matters.
While the majority of the Bill focuses on criminalising the theft and interference of data, it has also introduced new laws surrounding any ‘malicious’ electronic communication.
Concerns have previously been raised about the ‘vagueness’ of these messaging rules, especially because of the steep consequences attached to them.
Notably, any person who contravenes one of the following provisions is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years, or to both a fine and imprisonment.
- A message which incites damage to property or violence;
- A message which threatens persons with damage to property or violence;
- A message which unlawfully contains an intimate image.
Child Justice Amendment Bill
The Select Committee on Security and Justice has invited members of the public to submit written submissions on the Child Justice Amendment Bill.
Submissions must be received by no later than 1 March 2019.
The primary objective of the new bill is to increase the minimum age of criminal capacity of children from 10 years to 12 years – and to remove the requirement to prove criminal capacity for purposes of diversion and preliminary inquiries.
A diversion program is a form of sentence in which the criminal offender joins a rehabilitation program, which will help remedy the behaviour leading to the original arrest and avoid conviction and a criminal record.
National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill
The Select Committee on Education and Recreation has invited members of the public to submit written comments on the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill.
Submissions must be received by no later than 19 February 2019.
Arguably the biggest addition of the new bill is the introduction of a ‘register’ of fraudulent qualifications which would contain the names and details of individuals and providers who had been found by a court of law to be holding or issuing at least one fraudulent qualification.
According to the bill, ‘a fraudulent qualification or part-qualification’ includes a degree, diploma or certificate that is forged, fraudulently obtained or awarded in contravention of this Act, and has been declared as such by a court of law.
In addition to being included on this register, the bill states that any person who fraudulently claims to have received a qualification is guilty of an offence, and is liable on conviction to any sentence which may be imposed for an offence of fraud.