6 planned laws for South Africa you should know about in 2020

The new year is set to be a demanding one for South African lawmakers, with a number of important pieces of legislation expected to be considered in the coming months.

Chief among these is the Constitutional amendment allowing for land expropriation without compensation, and the introduction of South Africa’s new demerit system for motorists.

While some of these bills (such as the demerit system) have already been signed into law and are awaiting promulgation, other bills are likely to face steep opposition for civil society groups and opposition political parties.

BusinessTech looked at these planned laws in more detail below.


Land expropriation without compensation

The parliamentary committee on land expropriation published its new draft bill for public comment on 6 December.

The draft bill aims to amend the Constitution to provide that, where land and any improvements on it are expropriated for the purposes of land reform, the amount of compensation payable may be nil.

However, the bill itself does not specify the circumstances when no compensation may be given.

Instead, it states that a separate piece of national legislation must set out the specific circumstances where a court may determine that the amount of compensation is nil.

Written submissions on the bill must be received by no later than 31 January 2020.


Climate change law 

South Africa is at an advanced stage with formulating its national policy on mitigating the effects of climate change.

According to Environment, Forestry and Fisheries minister Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s National Climate Change Bill is now at an advanced stage and is expected to be passed into law in the near future.

The purpose of the bill is to build an effective climate change response and ensure the long-term, just transition to a climate-resilient and lower carbon economy and society.

This will be done within the context of sustainable development for South Africa, and will provide for all matters related to climate change.


Nationalising Reserve Bank

Parliament officially revived the bill which proposes the nationalisation of South Africa’s Reserve Bank in October 2019.

The bill – that spooked investors when first unveiled a year ago – comes at an awkward time for president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is on an investment drive to boost an ailing economy.

In August 2018, the EFF tabled the South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill, which seeks to nationalise the central bank.

South Africa’s central bank is one of the few in the world that’s still owned by private shareholders.


New law around sports, clubs and gyms in South Africa

A new draft amendment bill by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture is looking to bring all sports codes, clubs and fitness organisations under the direct regulatory control of the minister – which could mean bad news for South Africa’s participation in international events.

The bill, released by the department earlier in December, has been published for written inputs from the bodies affected.

According to the department, it seeks to amend the National Sport and Recreation Act to broadly “provide for the promotion and development of sport and recreation”.

This includes establishing a Sport Arbitration Tribunal to resolve disputes between sport or recreation bodies; regulate combat sport; regulate the fitness industry; provide for the procedure in bidding for and hosting of international sports and recreation events; provide for the delegation of powers; provide for offences and penalties; and to provide for matters connected with these.

Among the many proposed changes in the bill is the removal of the independence of sports bodies, which would now have to develop ways to promote their sports in consultation with the minister, as well as giving the minister power to step-in directly in any disputes within sports.

The department also wants to assume full control of all sports codes, with its oversight extending to “any national federation, agency, club or body, including a trust, professional league, or registered company of such a national federation, agency, club or body, involved in the administration of sport or recreation at local, provincial or national level.”

This would ostensibly include fitness groups like Virgin Active and Planet Fitness, which would have to register and be certified by the department.

The department would also be empowered to hand out penalties to organisations or aforementioned clubs if they do not comply with the prescriptions in the Act, including fines and up to two years in jail.


Demerit system

South Africa’s new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will be in full effect from June next year (2020), says Transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

Signed into law by president Ramaphosa in August, the act will introduce a new demerit system meaning all traffic fines across the country will now carry the same penal values.

In October 2019, the Department of Transport published draft regulations relating to the Act, introducing a number of controversial changes.

According to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), these changes are geared more towards revenue collection than actually dealing effectively with road deaths, or creating a safer driving environment in South Africa.

These include:

  • A R100 penalty that is automatically applied to each fine;
  • You will have to pay to find out how many demerit points you have;
  • You may pay for contesting fines;
  • You could end up paying for e-tolls.

NHI 

The Portfolio Committee on Health has embarked on a public participation process involving written submissions and public hearings around the new National Health Insurance Bill.

The bill promises universal health coverage to every South Africa, but will also act as form of ‘compulsory insurance’ as the NHI Fund acts as a single purchaser and single-payer of healthcare services in South Africa.

Under current legislation, a medical scheme member generally chooses the doctor, hospital and specialist and the medical scheme refunds that expense to the member, or for convenience directly to the provider of the service.

Under NHI, the Fund purchases the health care service “on behalf of the user” (mainly South African citizens and permanent residents) at accredited healthcare providers free of charge at point of care.

While the NHI is only expected to be introduced in several years time, government and regulators have already begun making major changes in preparation for the new system.


Read: President Ramaphosa’s 2020 New Year message to South Africa

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6 planned laws for South Africa you should know about in 2020