14 February 2023

Parliament Preview 2023: Legislation


2023 is set to be a big legislative year and legislating will take up a significant chunk of the parliamentary programme.

There are currently 42 bills before Parliament. This includes a mix of consequential, medium-level and minor legislation. If we go by history, we can expect a lot more to be introduced during the year. There is a higher volume of bills tabled in a pre-election year as the administration tries to fulfil its election promises and individual lawmakers have a final chance to make their mark.

This write-up highlights some of the key bills to look out for this year. 

One of the main highlights is the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill. The Bill seeks to amend the Constitution in order to recognise SA Sign Language as an official language.       


Parliament needed multiple extensions by the Constitutional Court but is close to finalising the Electoral Amendment Bill. On 10 February, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs adopted the Bill and recommended that the National Assembly pass the Bill. The second reading of the Bill in the National Assembly is slated for 23 February. Notably, the passing of the Bill will not be the end of it; in order to fully accommodate Independent Candidates, consequential amendments need to be made to other pieces of legislation. The inexhaustive list of such Acts includes the Electoral Commission Act, Electronic Communications Act, Political Party Funding Act, and the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act. [Tracking the Electoral Reform Legislation in Parliament]

The Climate Change Bill was introduced in Parliament exactly a year ago, in February 2022. The Bill, currently being processed by the Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, acknowledges the urgent threat of climate change and emphasises the need for an effective, progressive, and incremental response. The Bill is undergoing extensive public consultation and generated wide interest, with approximately 13 200 written submissions received by Parliament. 

Following previous attempts in 2008 and 2015, the Expropriation Bill was tabled again in 2020. The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure spent the better part of 2021 and 2022 holding deliberations and undertaking public consultations on the Bill, which was subsequently passed by the NA in September 2022. The Bill still has a journey to travel after referral to the NCOP for additional public participation processes. Notably, the Expropriation Bill is separate from the Section 25 constitutional amendment, which failed to pass in the NA at the end of 2021, after a four-year-long process. [Tracking the Expropriation Bill in Parliament]

The Portfolio Committee on Health is set to finalise the National Health Insurance Bill in the first quarter. From the outset, this Bill has sparked a lot of interest, controversy and threats of legal action. If the NA passes the Bill, its long journey continues in the NCOP as it will undergo additional scrutiny in the nine provinces as a Section 76 Bill. [NHI: Tracking the Bill through Parliament]

The Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill was introduced in Parliament in January 2022. 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. The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education held oral hearings throughout November 2022 and the Committee has scheduled provincial hearings from 23 February. All nine provinces will be visited. [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. In late 2022, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services requested permission to extend the subject of the Bill. If the request is acceded to, it would have to be referred to the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) for a change of tagging from a Section 75 to a Section 76 Bill. 

The processing of the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill is in its final leg following their transmission to the NCOP after they were passed by the National Assembly in September 2022. The remitted Bills’ passage through the NCOP and provincial legislatures is expected to begin in earnest with a call for written submissions, followed by the first round of public hearings.

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill was tabled at the tail-end of 2022 following extensive consultations. It took time to get to this point owing to ongoing battles between the government and the tobacco industry on the balance between public health interests and industry business interests. In a nutshell, the Bill aims to provide for control over smoking and the smoking industry by implementing regulations, which also extend to e-cigarettes.

There are several interesting Private Member Bills (PMBs) in the pipeline, and these include the Relocation of the Seat of Parliament Bill, South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill, and the Registration of Muslim Marriages Bill.

The Democratic Alliance announced plans to introduce the following PMBs: Cut Cabinet Perks Bill, Cyber Commissioner Bill, Social Impact Bill, Remote Gambling Bill, and a Responsible Spending Bill “to ensure that government is no longer able to recklessly fund its activities through unsustainably increasing national debt.”  

Beyond this, the legislature will have to consider all the money and finance-related bills introduced by the Minister of Finance on Budget Day.  

In his State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa announced that the government is “amending legislation and strengthening the role of the Public Service Commission to ensure that qualified people are appointed to senior management positions and to move towards creating a single, harmonised public service.” Second, the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill to transform the energy sector and establish a competitive electricity market will be tabled later this year. Third, the draft Public Procurement Bill to address weaknesses identified by the State Capture Commission and improve efficiency, value for money and transparency, will be finalised by Cabinet for tabling soon. On the South African Postbank Limited Amendment Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament, the President said that, in anticipation of its passing, enactment and implementation, Postbank is already “reviewing its service offerings so that it can provide a viable and affordable alternative to the commercial banks”

During the SONA Debate, Minister in the Presidency, Mr Mondli Gungubele confirmed a bill which seeks to amend the National Strategic Intelligence Act 1994, Intelligence Services Act 2002 & other relevant Intelligence laws so as to, amongst others, dis-establish the State Security Agency will be submitted to Parliament before the end of the financial year. In the same period, in addition to the finalisation of the General Intelligence Laws Amendments Bill, the Agency will also introduce the Interception Bill and finalize the Cybersecurity Bill.

Given the legislative load and time constraints, Parliament might have to prioritise specific legislation it wants to finalise. In addition, committees will have to be more efficient in tackling their legislative programme.

In anticipation of the busy year, a commitment was also made recently that the Leader of Government Business would meet with Parliament’s presiding officers to discuss the Executive’s legislative programme so that a determination on which bills are a priority for this year can be made.  


PMG will get to know more about the legislative programme when this is submitted in the next month or two and when the departmental Annual Performance Plans become available.


PMG Bills Tracker



About this blog

People's Assembly

"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.

We host the latest posts of this blog, written by People's Assembly. You can find more on PA's blog.

Share this page: