29 July 2019

Government’s legislative priorities

The Constitution of South Africa empowers the Executive to prepare and initiate legislation. Similarly, Parliament (through its committees) and individual MPs also have initiating power but the vast majority of legislation (92%) is introduced by the Executive.

Historically, the government introduces fewer bills in an election year (25 bills were tabled in 2014 and 15 in 2009). This is unsurprising as most of the year is lost to campaigning, elections, swearing-in and orientation of new MPs and new Ministers getting accustomed to their new portfolios.

Government’s legislative priorities reflect the commitments made in the election manifesto of the governing party and in many instances it includes the revival of bills that failed to pass or lapsed at the end of the previous administration.

The Sixth Administration has kicked into gear and Ministers laid out their legislative agenda during the recent budget vote speeches. We highlight many of the bills that will be tabled in this financial year below.

For their part, the Executive should be mindful that Parliament and government operate on different timetables and that overloading the legislature can lead to inefficiencies. Meanwhile, the legislature, which has the ultimate power, as representatives of the people, to consider, pass, amend or reject any legislation, needs to find a delicate balance between efficient processes and ensuring the quality of legislation is not compromised.

Agriculture

“Land Reform in our country has three elements that is Restitution of Land Rights, Land Redistribution and Land Tenure…The intention of the Communal Property Act was to create a holding facility for the recipients of land from government as beneficiaries in particular in groups. The Act provided for the establishment of the trust who will hold the land asset on behalf of communities. However in a majority of instances, such structures meaning the trusts, do not comply with the requirements of the law. They hardly convene meetings where they report on what is happening about the land either where such is leased to third parties. No reporting is given about the revenue which has accrued to the community whose land may be leased for purposes of generating income. My predecessor had instructed the department to build the capacity of the CPA’s through basic training that covers the aspects of being a trustee. Currently we are examining the impact of this work and will strengthen where such is required. In the fifth administration we had amended the legislation and tabled it in parliament. Regrettably this legislation was not passed as it was still at the committee stage. We hope that it will be amongst legislation that will be prioritized”

Communications and Digital Technologies

“As part of ensuring development of the sector, we will also present to Parliament, the Digital Development Fund Bill to establish the fund to support innovation”

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

“Proper oversight on municipalities is key to transparency at all levels, which is why the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2018 provides for the establishment of Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPAC) in all municipalities. Their function is to hold the Council accountable for the use of public resources to promote transparency, accountability, good governance, effective financial management, and quality service delivery at municipalities”

“We will be approaching the Leader of Government Business requesting him to consider the reintroduction of the Customary Initiation Bill in line with the Rules of the National Council of Provinces”

Employment and Labour

“The EE Amendment Bill will be prioritised for tabling in Parliament - to regulate the setting of sector specific employment targets to address the gross under-representation of blacks, women and persons with disabilities. In addition, it will also ensure that an Employment Equity Certificate of Compliance becomes a precondition for access to state contracts. R1.2 billion rand has been budgeted for this programme”

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Environmental Affairs)

“In line with our understanding that our climate change response has to involve all sectors of our society, the second draft of our Climate Change Bill is currently being discussed and debated at NEDLAC. The Bill aims to create a framework to implement the Vision 2030 call for a just transition to a climate-resilient and lower-carbon economy and society…This means that while we debate the Climate Change Bill, we must of necessity also discuss the objectives and the process of the just transition itself and ensure that it takes place in an orderly manner.  We must tread this, our future path towards 2050, while maintaining energy security and creating employment”

Finance

 “During this financial year, the National Treasury will table a new Procurement Bill as a single overarching legislation for public procurement in the country”

Also in the finance portfolio, we can expect introduction of the usual legislation: Division of Revenue Amendment Bill, Adjustment Appropriations Bill as well as two tax bills and the rates bill.

Health

Cabinet has approved the NHI Bill for tabling in Parliament for public consultation. In the interim the structure of the National Department of Health will be reorganised to support the implementation of the NHI. The NHI Implementation Unit will be established while the legislative processes are underway. This unit will form the embryo of the National Health Insurance Fund and a platform for capacity building for staff.

Home Affairs

“Once the [Border Management Authority] bill is passed, the BMA pilot projects will start and focus on OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town Seaport, Oshoek land post between eswatini and South Africa as well as Lebombo land post between Mozambique and South Africa”

“Under the BMA, there will be one command structure, and one governance system.  The management of the borders will become rational.  The BMA Bill has been passed in the National Assembly in 2017 and unfortunately got stuck in the NCOP.  Our immediate task is to go to the NCOP and unstuck it so that we can establish the authority”

Human Settlements

“In working smarter we are committed to resuscitate our relations with the construction industry. I intend to have an indaba with the construction industry at the earliest opportunity to strategise how we can work better to support our work. I’ll be proposing legislation that will give us the necessary power to restructure the environment in which we work and remove the frustrations of our construction industry”

Justice

“The comprehensive reform of the justice system includes the overhauling of the old-era Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 to ensure that is attuned to the constitutional democracy of our time. In this regard, we will draft a Bill that will culminate in the enactment of new legislation which will flow from the Integrated Criminal Justice Framework which was approved by Cabinet in 2017.  The envisaged legislation will also consider the victims of crime and witnesses as the main beneficiaries of the system”  

“There is on-going work in transforming the Office of the State Attorney. This area is of significance, given the unprecedented levels of litigation against the State. Some of the known inefficiencies include a shortage of legal trained personnel and the inability of the State to attract competent practitioners.  We are giving urgent attention to this area of work and will soon be approaching Cabinet with a Business Case and Draft Bill containing recommendations that will take the Department and the country forward”

“As part of its legislative programme, the Department will promote the following Bills this financial year:

  • Revival of The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which has already been introduced into Parliament the 5th Parliament and was being considered by the Justice and correctional Services Portfolio Committee;

  • Revival of The Traditional Courts Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly of the 5th Parliament, which was awaiting consideration by the NCOP;

  • Introduce a Land Court Bill which will provide for the establishment of a Land Court to promote land justice and address some of the challenges that have been experienced with the current Land Claims Court dispensation;

  • Introduce the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill to ensure compliance with Courts judgments which found certain provisions to be unconstitutional;

  • Judicial Matters Amendment Bill

  • Cyber Crimes Bill;

  • Child Justice Amendment Bill; and

  • International Crimes Bill

Mineral Resources and Energy (Energy)

“Work is underway to develop the Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which will ensure that we provide policy certainty for the upstream petroleum sector that is a relatively new sector in our economy, yet with great potential to grow GDP, contribute to the fiscus and create much-needed jobs.

The Gas Amendment Bill intends to leverage available gas resources; such as those in the Karoo and the recent discoveries in the Brulpadda fied. The Bill will assist us to implement gas-to-power projects.

We intend to finalise the National Energy Regulator Amendment Bill. The structure of National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) will be revised into 2 tiers with the introduction of a Review Board to deal with appeals. These changes are aimed at promoting efficient regulation of the energy sector”

Public Enterprises

“With the goal of the Government Shareholder Bill be adopted into law by 2021/22 the green Paper for the SOE Bill will be developed this financial year. This will amongst other things address governance, SOE mandates, funding models as well as guidelines for private sector participation”

Social Development

“We remain committed to accelerating the transformation of welfare services and the sector as a whole. The provision of developmental welfare services to the most vulnerable is an integral part of our social protection agenda in the NDP. Accordingly, we have commenced with a number of initiatives that we will table to Cabinet in this financial year. Key amongst these is the White Paper for Social Development, the Social Services Practitioners Bill and the National Drug Master Plan” 

“The finalisation of the Victim Support Services Bill is a direct key policy response to some of the identified challenges”

“As part of our ongoing efforts to improving the policy and regulatory environment in which NPOs operate, we will table the NPO Act Amendment Bill to Cabinet in the current financial year”

Tourism

“The draft Tourism Amendment Bill was recently approved by Cabinet and has been gazetted for public comments. Given the extent of interest in the Bill, the comments period has been extended by a month until the 15th of July 2019. We aim to get the bill approved within this financial year”

Trade and Industry and Economic Development

“The two departments propose legislative amendments covering gambling, liquor regulation, consumer credit, special economic zones and company governance.  I am commissioning a review and will make an announcement on the final legislative programme by mid-September this year”

“We have set ourselves an objective to create fair regulatory environment that enables investment, trade and enterprise development. In this regard, we developed various legislations and policies such as B-BBEE Act, Consumer Protection, Gambling and Liquor Act amongst others”

Transport

The Minister of Transport said that the restructuring and turnaround of the Road Accident Fund is a key priority for his department. “We will be re-introducing the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill to Parliament to expedite this process, among other interventions”

“Economic regulation is an important lever through which we can achieve this objective, while simultaneously enabling equitable access to infrastructure and pricing that encourages healthy competition.  Over the next year, we intend to introduce before this house a Bill to establish a single transport economic regulator.  The regulator will level the playing fields in the rail, maritime and roads sectors”

State security

“In the next eight months, we will be reviewing and updating some of our policy and legislative instruments to strengthen our capacity to carry out our mandate. Amongst others is the review of the White Paper on Intelligence and the Minimum Information Security Standards

Water

“South Africa has more dams and water licences in private hands than those owned by the State and authorities. Thus, unlike with ESKOM and the supply of electricity from a state sponsored monopoly, the supply and management of the nation’s water resource has many constituents. This means that a knowledgeable, always informed and transparently constituted regulator is required to manage both state and privately owned water resources and to optimise in a fair and judicious manner the nation’s water resource as a strategic asset and in the interest of all who live in South Africa. Therefore, the Department will deliberate intensely about the establishment of a Water Regulator supported by the appropriate legislation.

“We will put forward a Bill that will transform the sector. As we talk about transformation of land ownership, we should understand that land ownership with no access to water will take us nowhere. I therefore hope that this water use bill will be given priority”

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

“We are going to reintroduce the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill that was lauded as a trailblazer in dealing with patriarchy and redressing the imbalances of the past by the CEDAW committee. The WEGE Bill lapsed in the 5th Administration”

Meanwhile, Committees and political parties (through their MPs) have also made their legislative plans clear, and in some instances, these are already underway. 

COMMITTEES

The Justice Committee has received permission from the National Assembly to introduce a legislative proposal (a Committee Bill) to amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act so as to revise and align its provisions with section 32 of the Constitution following the Constitutional Court’s judgment in 2018. It has a deadline of 20 December 2019 to conclude its work. Further, the National Assembly has agreed to establish a new multiparty ad hoc committee to initiate and introduce legislation to amend section 25 of the constitution.

POLITICAL PARTIES

The DA plans to table a Jobs Bill, Cheaper Energy Bill, fight for labour legislation reform, oppose any changes to the Reserve Bank independence and mandate, propose alternatives to the current State Owned Entity (SOE) ownership framework, propose alternatives to the current Mining Charter, as well as oppose the NHI Bill and expropriation of property and land without compensation.  The party has also published a notice of intention to table an Independent System and Market Operator Bill, 2019.

The Chief Whip of the EFF listed a number of bills the party will be tabling in Parliament, specifically aimed at bringing changes to the economic sector. Among the bills the EFF will draft are the SA Reserve Bank Amendment Bill, which he said will make sure that private ownership of the reserve bank is discontinued, joining 90% of central banks in the world. Mr Shivambu said he will also table “a proper” Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act to put clear conditions on what should be the exposure of the state in terms of ownership of new petroleum and mineral projects. The EFF, which has championed the debate on tax avoidance since its arrival in parliament in 2014, will also table an anti-tax avoidance bill that will deal with the question of base erosion and illicit financial flows https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2019-06-26-eff-moots-scandi-style-state-wealth-fund-eyes-petroleum-sector/

BILLS ALREADY INTRODUCED/REVIVED

So far, only the 2019 Appropriations Bill has been revived by way of motion in the National Assembly after lapsing when the Fifth Parliament was dissolved. Once this bill is law, additional financial support will be provided to SOEs, namely SAA, SABC and Denel from the contingency reserve.

The Select Committee on Trade and Industry has had a meeting on the National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill (Committee Bill) and 2018 National Gambling Bill which both lapsed. Both are likely to be revive as well, in particular the former.

In seeking to stabilise the financial situation at Eskom in the short term, the Minister of Finance has introduced a Special Appropriations Bill in Parliament

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