New laws in South Africa that will affect everyone
There are several new laws in various stages of development in South Africa. From regulating e-hailing services like Uber, to imposing harsher penalties on certain crimes.
Below are summaries of the most notable new laws for South Africa. Some simply require the President’s signature to come into effect, while others still have a lengthy public consultation process ahead of them.
Sabinet Law publishes information on the current status of each of the Bills discussed below, and provides regular updates from government and the news media about the regulations and legislation under development.
Regulations for Uber and other ride hailing services
The National Land Transport Amendment Bill aims to impose additional regulations on electronic ride hailing services (e-hailing services) such as Uber and Bolt in South Africa. The National Assembly passed the Bill on 10 March and has sent it to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.
The Bill creates a new category of operating licenses. It also imposes obligations on technology providers to block illegal operators on their technology platforms.
Should a platform allow a driver to operate on its platform illegally, it could face a penalty of up to R100,000. The Bill also makes provision for imprisonment of up to two years on e-hailing services that allow illegal operators on their platforms.
The National Assembly has passed the National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill and has sent it to the National Council of Provinces.
This follows an increase in the national minimum wage of 3.8%, from R20 per hour to R20,76 per hour.
The minimum wage increases were gazetted by the Minister of Labour, Thulas Nxesi, and took effect on 1 March.
In addition to the national minimum wage, the Minister made the following amendments to minimum wages in South Africa:
- Farm workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R18,68 per hour;
- Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R15,57 per hour; and
- Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R11,42 per hour.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to finalise the Climate Change Bill, which aims to provide a regulatory framework for the effective management of inevitable climate change impacts.
The President stated that the regulatory framework will enhance South Africa’s adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change. It will also identify new industrial opportunities in the green economy.
Land expropriation without compensation
The National Assembly unanimously passed a motion to extend the deadline for drafting an amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution of South Africa to 29 May 2020. The ad-hoc committee tasked with drafting the amendment previously had until the end of March to do so.
Section 25 sets out property rights in South Africa and begins as follows: “No one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application, and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property.”
In its current draft, one of the provisions the amendment wishes to add to the Constitution is: “a court may, where land and any improvement thereon are expropriated for the purposes of land reform, determine that the amount of compensation is nil”.
However, according to reports, there is pressure on legislators to give the power of determining nil compensation with the relevant Minister, rather than the courts. Someone whose land is expropriated without compensation may then approach the courts for review.
After the ad-hoc committee completes its draft, it must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. It then goes to the National Council of Provinces where six of the nine provinces of South Africa must agree on the amendment for it to take effect.
From there, Parliament must adopt a “law of general application” — a law like the Expropriation Bill which is currently undergoing consultations.
The Expropriation Bill will have to go through a similar process as the constitutional amendment but will not need a special majority to carry. Simply securing more than 50% of the vote in the National Assembly, and five provinces will be enough. It will go to the President to be signed into law.
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has announced plans to table an amendment bill to the Basic Education Act in Parliament during 2020.
Referred to as the Basic Education Amendment Bill, the Minister stated that it will make two schooling years before Grade 1 compulsory.
A draft bill released for public comment in 2017, called the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA), the bill attracted criticism for proposing stricter control measures over which schools learners are allowed to attend.
Among the other proposed changes in the BELA Bill were:
- Harsh penalties for persons obstructing children from attending school;
- Revision of school’s teaching languages and religion; and
- Clarity on home schooling recognition and qualifications.
Mobile data price cuts
Vodacom and the Competition Commission have reached an agreement which will see the mobile network operator reduce data prices across its product portfolio by at least 30%.
Vodacom committed to further reducing its prices on 1 April 2021 for a total decrease of around 40%.
This follows a Competition Commission inquiry into South Africa’s data services market, which was concluded in December 2019.
Vodacom said that it agreed to reduce its prices in anticipation of the assignment of additional radio frequency spectrum for 4G and 5G networks. It is trusting the relevant authorities to ensure that additional spectrum is released in 2020.
Radio frequency spectrum is equivalent to network capacity for cellular operators like Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom’s mobile division. The networks have previously stated that access to additional spectrum is necessary for them to reduce prices and remain current with the latest technologies, such as 5G.
A white paper and policy direction from the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies has stipulated that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa must assign spectrum to a new Wholesale Open Access Network (WOAN).
President Ramaphosa has stated that the licensing of the WOAN will likely be completed in 2021. The licensing of the WOAN can happen independently of the assignment of additional spectrum to other network operators.
Black Economic Empowerment
Cabinet approved the Employment Equity Amendment Bill in February, clearing the path for the bill to be submitted to the National Assembly in Parliament.
In its current draft, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill aims to regulate sector-specific employment targets to address the under-representation of blacks, women, and people with disabilities.
The Bill also aims to make an employment equity certificate a precondition for access to state contracts.
President Ramaphosa stated that the Procurement Bill is part of government’s efforts to empower black and emerging businesses and advance radical economic transformation.
Once passed into law, the Bill will repeal the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, 2000 and amend other procurement-related laws.
Harsher punishment for criminals
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services has published three draft bills that aim to introduce harsher punishments for criminals in South Africa. The three bills are:
- Domestic Violence Amendment Bill
- Criminal Matters Amendment Bill
- Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment
Among the changes being introduced by these bills is a broadening of the categories of sex offenders whose names must be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders.
Bail and sentencing conditions in cases that involve gender-based violence will also be tightened.