6 more laws sent to Ramaphosa to sign

 ·16 May 2024

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed six pieces of legislation during its last plenary session of the sixth term of Parliament on 16 May 2024.

The bills passed by the NCOP which move to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desk for assent before the end of the sixth administration in two weeks are the:

  • Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill;
  • General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill;
  • National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Bill;
  • Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment Bill;
  • Transport Appeal Tribunal Amendment Bill;
  • and the Plant Health (Phytosanitary) Bill.

Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill

Proponents of the bill say that aims to revolutionise South Africa’s energy sector, by allowing for a competitive and sustainable electricity industry to meet the nation’s energy demands.

The bill seeks to enhance energy security by diversifying energy production and expanding access to electricity.

Key provisions include transitioning from a reliance on Eskom to a multi-stakeholder energy system, managed by a Transmission System Operator, fostering competition, and modernising the sector.

The bill introduces new roles and regulatory mechanisms to support the unbundling of Eskom and streamline licensing processes under the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).

“It further aims to amend the regulatory framework for the electricity industry in response to prevailing conditions in the South African electricity power system and the Department of Public Enterprises’ Roadmap for Eskom in a Reformed Electricity Supply Industry of 2019,” said the NCOP in a media statement.

General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill

The controversial General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (GILAB) is aimed at countering the erosion of the country’s State Security Agency (SSA) by overhauling it.

According to a statement by the NCOP, it “seeks to clarify and introduce new definitions of various national security concepts and terminology relevant to the amendments.”

“The Bill also introduces a robust two-step authorisation process for bulk interception, which requires authorisation within the intelligence service and an independent judicial review [to] ensure that interceptions are conducted within the boundaries of the law based on genuine security concerns,” it added.

However, the bill has been met with fierce opposition.

Media freedom groups have warned that despite several revisions, it “still fails to address its stated aim: to rectify the legal conditions that enabled deeply rooted malfeasance within the SSA and contributed significantly to intelligence services interfering in politics and enabling state capture.”

National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Bill

The bill provides for establishing the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency as a state-owned company and major public entity.

The sweeping reforms are intended to attract private investment, enforce accountability for non-performance and remedy a crisis that has seen outages nationwide.

“The National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Bill seeks to ensure a sustainable, equitable and reliable water supply from national water resources infrastructure while meeting constitutional obligations, including national and regional social and economic objectives of national policy,” said the NCOP.

Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment Bill

This Bill “aims to improve existing regulations to protect our oceans from ship-related pollution,” said the NCOP.

It aligns with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (the main international convention aimed at the prevention of pollution from ships caused by operational or accidental causes).

The bill includes, among others, guidelines for proper stowing, handling, and transfer of toxic waste, the disposal of hazardous waste like cleaning agents, and reducing air pollution from ships.

Transport Appeal Tribunal Amendment Bill

The Amendment Bill updates the Transport Appeal Tribunal Act to reflect recent developments and revises definitions.

The Transport Appeal Tribunal Amendment Bill establishes the Transport Appeal Tribunal, which hears appeals related to certain transport-related matters, such as licensing and permits.

“The Bill also empowers the Transport Appeal Tribunal to take appropriate steps in cases where its rulings are not implemented or effected timeously [and] empowers the tribunal to investigate delays in the completion of its proceedings,” said the NCOP.

It also allows the Minister of Transport to extend the term of office of the members of the tribunal.

Plant Health (Phytosanitary) Bill

The Plant Health (Phytosanitary) Bill aims to improve the current phytosanitary system in South Africa to meet the requirements of major trading partners and international agreements and treaties.

It establishes regulations and procedures to monitor, control, and manage the import, export, and movement of plants, plant products, and related materials.

This is because the the ultimate aim is for the safeguarding plant health and preventing the spread of pests and diseases that can harm crops, forests, and natural ecosystems.

“The Bill also supports the government’s goals of sustainable natural resource management, effective national regulation, and risk management systems, as well as increasing the agriculture sector’s contribution to the country’s economic growth and development,” added the NCOP.

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