From the Government Gazette and Media Statements (18 September 2023)
PARENTAL AND MATERNITY BENEFITS
- The South African Law Reform Commission published a report on the outcome of an investigation into maternity and parental benefits for self-employed workers in the informal economy. It includes recommendations and a draft Bill.
- According to the accompanying media statement informed by public comments on a discussion document released in July 2021, recommended reforms include:
- extending maternity and parental benefits outlined in the Unemployed Insurance Fund and Basic Conditions of Employment Acts to self-employed workers
- pegging maternity cash benefits for self-employed workers at 100% of the reference wage, with government subsidising that wage if it falls below the amount required to ensure acceptable health and living conditions for a mother and her child, and
- introducing a maternity support grant for qualifying informal and formal sector workers (to be converted into a child support grant where applicable).
ESSENTIAL FOOD PRICING
- The Competition Commission published an essential food pricing monitoring report:
- exploring ‘comparative trends in grocery retailer margins (across) global peers’
- providing evidence of the ‘rocket and feather effect’ on maize meal, cooking oil, bread and quick-frozen chicken piece prices, and
- including ‘an in-depth overview of the beef value chain’.
- According to an accompanying media statement:
- ‘food inflation remains at nearly twice the inflation rate for all goods and services’, and
- the term ‘rocket and feather effect’ refers to a phenomenon in which prices rise quickly during inflationary periods and decline slowly when inflation subsides – potentially causing competition dysfunction.
CANNABIS FOR PRIVATE PURPOSES BILL
- The National Assembly’s Committee on Justice and Correctional Services approached the House for permission to extend the subject of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill ‘to address issues relating to the best interest of the child’.
- According to an interim committee report tabled in the House, this will allow a Bill originally intended only to give effect to the Constitutional Court’s September 2018 ‘Prince judgement’ to become the ‘legislative vehicle’ with which also to address the March 2022 ‘Centre for Child Law judgment’.
BASIC EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
- The National Assembly’s Basic Education Committee issued two media statements following the conclusion of its work on the Bill, which has been revised informed by input received during public hearings.
- The first statement drew attention to the following changes:
- when determining a school’s language policy, its governing body will be required to consider ‘the language needs of the broader community’
- a school’s language policy and any amendments to it will require the approval of the provincial head of department
- after consulting a school’s governing body, the provincial head of department will have ‘the final authority to admit a learner’ to that school, and
- while it will be mandatory to register any learner receiving home schooling, prerequisites will not necessarily include a pre-registration site visit, and
- amendments in the tabled Bill that have now been scrapped include:
- those dealing with the sale of alcohol on school premises after hours, and
- the disclosure of school governing body members’ financial interests, along with those of their spouses, partners and immediate families.
- The second media statement clarified issues apparently misreported in the media.
- Once enacted and operationalised, the Bill will:
- make Grade R the new compulsory school-starting age
- penalise parents or guardians ‘who do not ensure their children are in school’, and
- strengthen existing provisions prohibiting corporal punishment by making it an offence with ‘penalties for those found guilty’.
NPA AND RICA AMENDMENT BILLS
- According to a report posted on Parliament’s website, members of the National Assembly’s Justice and Correctional Services Committee expressed frustration at the limited amount of time available for processing the:
- Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information (RICA) Amendment Bill, and
- National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Amendment Bill.
- The report noted that delays in drafting and tabling the RICA Amendment Bill were blamed on a shortage of appropriately experienced and skilled staff.
PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION ACT
- The Information Regulator gazetted a notice calling for public comments on a draft code of conduct submitted by the Residential Communities Council. Unfortunately, the draft code itself was not made available until three days into the 14-day commentary period, which ends on 22 September 2023. Once finalised, the code is expected to:
- promote compliant personal information processing practices by Council members
- facilitate ‘appropriate agreements’ between Council members and third parties on personal information processing, as required by the Act and ‘dictated by good business practice’, and
- establish procedures for considering complaints and taking remedial action where necessary.
MEDIA AND DIGITAL PLATFORMS MARKET INQUIRY
- The Competition Commission gazetted the final terms of reference for an inquiry into the media and digital platforms market, focusing on:
- digital platforms distributing news media content, and
- associated advertising technology markets.
- According to an accompanying media statement, the terms of reference:
- are underpinned by the Commission’s concern about the possible existence of market features that ‘impede, distort, or restrict competition’ – with ‘adverse implications’ for South Africa’s news media sector, including news publishers and broadcasters, and
- allow the inquiry to take ‘a forward-looking approach’, among other things by evaluating the ‘new technologies adopted by digital platforms’, including generative AI search support.
- According to the inquiry’s administrative timetable, the Commission has until January 2025 to publish a final report with recommendations.
- A media statement on Cabinet’s most recent meeting confirmed that the tourism sector’s broad-based black economic empowerment ownership target has been pegged at 30%. This is:
- in line with a February 2023 Constitutional Court ruling, and
- should end any remaining uncertainty regarding the legality of a 51% black ownership requirement imposed in January 2021, as one of the criteria to be met by small and medium tourism-related enterprises applying to the Tourism Equity Fund for relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prepared by Pam Saxby
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"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.