A number of important pieces of legislation are expected to take centre stage in South Africa over the coming months, with some of the key new bills focusing on the country’s roads.
Chief among these is the new demerit system which has been decades in the making and is expected to fundamentally change the country’s traffic system.
BusinessTech looked at these planned laws in more detail below.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has previously said that South Africa’s new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will be in full effect from June 2020.
Signed into law by president Ramaphosa in August 2019, 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.
- 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.
The controversial Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill was revived by parliament towards the end of 2019.
The Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) is a proposed replacement for the current Road Accident Fund (RAF), which is a state-supported insurance fund designed to provide compensation for those seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents on South African roads.
According to law firm DSC Attorneys, the RAF compensates road accident victims who’ve been seriously injured due to accidents that they weren’t fully responsible for causing.
In contrast, the RABS is intended to be a “no-fault” system. At least in theory, it will provide compensation to all individuals seriously injured in road accidents, regardless of whether those individuals were responsible for the accidents.
This means there will be no negative outcome for negligent, reckless drivers whose behaviour results in the death or serious injury of other motorists, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians.
The proposed RABS Bill was tabled before the National Assembly at the end of 2018.
However, in response to gross problems with the bill – described by critics as immoral and unconstitutional – opposition parties staged a walkout. This left too few parliamentarians attending the sitting to pass the legislation.
The bill is expected to face continued resistance in 2020 but its clear that the RAF cannot continue in its current state as it faces massive financial issues.
A decision on E-tolls
Government is expected to make some announcement on e-tolls in 2020 as the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) continues to haemorrhage money.
In November, finance minister Tito Mboweni said that a significant portion of the South African National Roads Agency’s existing debt was to finance the upgrade of roads on GFIP.
This means that e-tolls cannot be abolished without a revenue stream to finance existing commitments.
Despite these issues, goverment failed to meet promised deadlines on the future of the system after Ramaphosa personally stepped in on the matter.
In November, minister Mbalula said that cabinet has not made an official decision on the future of e-tolls.
Mbalula said that his department tabled a number of proposals regarding the controversial toll scheme, with cabinet set to debate these possibilities later in November.
He said that these proposals would form a ‘reconfigured approach’ following disagreements between the national government, the department of transport, and Gauteng government.