4 new laws proposed for South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet has approved a number of pieces of legislation for submission to parliament.

In a media briefing on Thursday (27 August), minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that the bills will address a number of issues – including national elections and sectional title properties.

These bills are outlined in more detail below.

Electoral Law Amendment Bill

Mthembu said that the Electoral Law Amendment Bill will make a number of changes to existing electoral legislation in South Africa.

The amendments will amongst others introduce innovations in electoral practices in keeping with best practices to improve the IEC’s efficiency in managing elections, he said.

In June, the Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s Electoral Act is unconstitutional as it does not provide for adult citizens to be elected to the National and Provincial Legislatures as independent candidates.

In July, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said that it is considering the introduction of electronic voting in an effort to increase efficiencies in the elections process in South Africa.

Sectional Titles Amendment Bill

Mthembu said that the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill will amend the current Sectional Titles Act which provides for the establishment of sectional title schemes.

The minister said that the proposed amendments will provide clarity and give additional protections to tenants and other people who hold the lease of a property.

Children’s Amendment Bill

While not mentioned by Mthembu, the Department of Social Development has announced its intention to table the Children’s Amendment Bill to parliament shortly.

The bill has faced controversy in the past because of its harsh stance on corporal punishment in the home.

A draft version of the bill published in 2018 indicated that any punishment, within the home or other environment, in which physical force or action is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or harm to the child is unlawful.

While it is not clear whether corporal punishment will be covered in the latest version of the bill, an explanatory summary indicates that the following issues will be addressed:

Other issues which the bill will address:

  • To provide for children’s right to privacy and protection of information;
  • To further provide for the rights of unmarried fathers;
  • To extend the children’s court jurisdiction;
  • To further provide for medical testing of children in need of care and protection or adoption ;
  • To provide for additional matters relating to children in alternative care;
  • To further provide for matters relating to adoption and inter-country adoption;
  • To further provide for the hearing of child abduction matters;
  • To further provide for matters relating to surrogate motherhood.

Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020

Earlier in August, cabinet approved the submission of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020 to Parliament for processing.

The bill will give effect to the Constitutional Court judgement that declared some parts of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and Medicines and Related Substances Control Act unconstitutional.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that the use of cannabis is legal for both personal and medical use. However, it is currently still unlawful to use it outside of your private home, as well as buying and selling it.

The new draft bill outlines new possession rules for cannabis users at the home as well as for people who wish to cultivate the plant. It also introduces new offences, as well as provisions for people who previously received a criminal record for cannabis possession.

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4 new laws proposed for South Africa