Parliament Preview 2022: Legislation
There are currently 50 bills before Parliament. This includes a mix of consequential, medium-level and minor legislation.
In this piece we highlight some of the key bills to look out for this year.
The Electoral Amendment Bill is one of the major bills. In 2020, the Constitutional Court gave Parliament a June 2022 deadline to make changes to the electoral system. MPs have their work cut out to consider the Bill's details, facilitate public participation through hearings, and pass a final Bill in the next four months. Given this mammoth task, it is not surprising that the Speaker of the National Assembly has written to the apex court requesting an extension. In the meantime, the Committee has arranged an extensive schedule of virtual and nation-wide public hearings. [Tracking the Electoral Reform Legislation in Parliament]
Following previous attempts in 2008 and 2015, the Expropriation Bill was tabled again in 2020. The Bill spent the better part of 2021 undergoing public consultation in the provinces. Notably, this Bill is separate from the Section 25 constitutional amendment, which failed to pass in the National Assembly at the end of last year, after a four-year-long process. The Bill still has a journey to travel as the relevant National Assembly Committee is yet to begin deliberations on the Bill and if passed by the House it will be referred to the NCOP for additional public participation processes. [Tracking the Expropriation Bill in Parliament]
The Portfolio Committee on Health held its last virtual round of public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill at the end of February 2022. The Committee began its virtual public participation process on the Bill in May 2021. The virtual public hearings followed on from provincial public hearings in 33 district municipalities that took place between October 2019 and February 2020. Consideration of the Bill enters its next phase: the Committee is planning a study tour to the United Kingdom to examine the NHI; thereafter the Department will respond to all the issues raised during the public hearings before the Committee begins clause-by-clause deliberations. [NHI: Tracking the Bill through Parliament]
The Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill was introduced in Parliament at the start of this year. It seeks to introduce new regulations around schools in South Africa, most notably in relation to compulsory schooling from Grade R, language policies and curriculums, prohibition of corporal punishment and initiation practices, to mention a few. In February, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education mapped the way forward regarding the process it will likely follow to ensure thorough public engagement. The Committee agreed to provide a month for written public comment on the Bill, likely in March, after which it will engage in public hearings. [Tracking the BELA Bill in Parliament]
The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill is currently making its way through Parliament following its introduction in September 2020. The Bill was necessitated by the Western Cape High Court ruling in 2017 which found sections of the Drugs Act and Drug Trafficking Act unconstitutional, effectively allowing adults to use and grow the plant for personal use in the privacy of their own homes.
A draft Climate Change Bill was published for comment in June 2018. 44 months later, the Bill was finally introduced in Parliament. Its stated objective is to craft and implement an effective national climate change response, including mitigation and adaptation actions, that represents the Republic’s fair contribution to the global climate change response. The Bill –mooted as a Section 76 Bill – has generated widespread attention and Parliament is likely to be inundated with comments from interest groups.
In June 2021, the National Assembly rescinded its previous decision to pass the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Bill was referred back to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry for further consideration. Processing of the Bill is currently underway and the Committee aims to finalise it during the second quarter in 2022.
The National Gambling Amendment Bill is one of the Bills that were not finalised by the Fifth Parliament and was revived by the National Council of Provinces in the Sixth Parliament. At the end of 2021, it was eventually put to a vote in the NCOP. The outcome was 3 in favour, 4 opposed and 2 abstained. This meant that the Bill was referred to the Mediation Committee – a rare occurrence – for consideration. The Committee’s function is to consider Bills with a view to finding agreement between the two Houses in the event that there is no concurrence on a version of a Bill.
Legislation accompanying the budget that was tabled on Budget Day, namely: Division of Revenue Bill; Appropriation Bill; and the Second Adjustments Appropriation (2021/22 Financial Year) Bill, will be discussed and processed by the finance and appropriation committees in both Houses over the next couple of months.
It is unclear whether we will finally see some movement on some of the Bills that have stalled for many years. These include: Protection of State Information Bill (2010); International Crimes Bill (2017); Traditional Courts Bill (2017), and the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (2018).
Beyond these, there are several bills expected to make their way to Parliament during the course of the year.
Discussions on amendments to the Political Party Funding Act are gaining traction and a Bill could be tabled soon. Some contend the Act, which came into effect on 1 April last year, has caused a reduction in the capacity of political parties to mobilise resources for their activities and for election campaigns. Political parties are supposed to disclose to the Independent Electoral Commission - on a quarterly basis - funds of more than R100 000 that they receive.
The Democratic Alliance says it will soon introduce a private members bill to initiate a corruption tax. It says the Bill will introduce provisions that will require companies implicated in corruption to pay additional tax.
The Minister of Employment has published the draft Employment Services Amendment Bill. The proposed Amendment Bill proposes a framework that will enable the Minister to set quotas for employment of foreign nationals. The proposed Amendment Bill proposes a framework that will enable the Minister to set quotas for employment of foreign nationals. A quota may apply in respect of a sector of the economy, an occupational category or a geographical area. The Minister will establish a quota in a sector after consultation with the Employment Services Board and after considering public comments. The IFP previously indicated that it intends to introduce a similar bill but this might not be pursued anymore given this development.
PMG will get to know more about the Executive’s legislative programme when this is submitted in the next month or two and when the departmental Annual Performance Plans become available.
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.