The sixth democratic Parliament has had a demanding 28 weeks since its establishment following the May general election. On the agenda were 31 Bills revived from the stage at which they lapsed when the previous Parliament’s term ended – and another 13 new Bills. It is these new bills which are likely to dominate the conversation in 2020, as they propose major changes around property and healthcare.
BusinessTech looked at this new legislation in more detail below.
Land expropriation without compensation
The parliamentary committee on land expropriation published its new draft bill for public comment on 6 December.
The draft Bill aims to amend the Constitution to provide that, where land and any improvements on it are expropriated for the purposes of land reform, the amount of compensation payable may be nil.
However, the bill itself does not specify the circumstances when no compensation may be given.
Instead, it states that a separate piece of national legislation must set out the specific circumstances where a court may determine that the amount of compensation is nil.
Written submissions on the bill must be received by no later than 31 January 2020.
The Portfolio Committee on Health has embarked on a public participation process involving written submissions and public hearings around the new National Health Insurance Bill.
The bill promises universal health coverage to every South Africa, but will also act as form of ‘compulsory insurance’ as the NHI Fund acts as a single purchaser and single-payer of healthcare services in South Africa.
Under current legislation, a medical scheme member generally chooses the doctor, hospital and specialist and the medical scheme refunds that expense to the member, or for convenience directly to the provider of the service.
Under NHI, the Fund purchases the health care service “on behalf of the user” (mainly South African citizens and permanent residents) at accredited healthcare providers free of charge at point of care.
While the NHI is only expected to be introduced in several years time, government and regulators have already begun making major changes in preparation for the new system.
There has been heavy opposition to the bill from both opposition parties and the private sector and this is likely to continue into 2020.
Nationalising Reserve Bank
Parliament officially revived the bill which proposes the nationalisation of South Africa’s Reserve Bank in October 2019.
The bill – that spooked investors when first unveiled a year ago – comes at an awkward time for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is on an investment drive to boost an ailing economy.
In August 2018, the EFF tabled the South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill, which seeks to nationalise the central bank.
South Africa’s central bank is one of the few in the world that’s still owned by private shareholders.
The draft bill provides for the following:
- The State as the sole shareholder of the shares in the Bank;
- The responsibility of the President of the Republic in consultation with the Minister of Finance and Parliament to appoint the Governor, Deputy Governors and all other directors of the Bank; and
- The role of the Minister of Finance as a shareholder to exercise the rights attached to the shares in the Bank.
While the bill is a ‘private members bill’, it aligns with the ruling ANC’s own position on nationalising the Reserve Bank which means it may gain traction from the ruling party.
However, the government may ultimately decide to publish its own draft bill around nationalisation instead of using the EFF’s framework.