New laws coming to South Africa in the next few months

- Wednesday, 22/02/2023, 09:31

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently mentioned progress is being made on three bills dealing with the energy sector, Postbank and public procurement.

New laws coming to South Africa in the next few months -0

During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week (9 February), the president said that steps towards finalising new bills could be expected in the coming months.

According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG), there are currently 58 bills that are progressing to become law – many at different stages of the legislative process.

The PMG is an information service group that maintains a public online record of policy decisions by the South African parliament.

Earlier this year, the PMG reported that 20 bills were passed in 2022. “Out of these bills, nine were money bills linked to the main and supplementary budgets,” said the PMG.

In South Africa, a bill must go through several steps before becoming a law, including introduction in parliament, review by a committee, debate and amendment by parliament, and signature by the president.

Ramaphosa can either sign the bill into law or return it to parliament with recommendations for changes.

Here are the bills Ramaphosa mentioned:

Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill

Ramaphosa said that this bill would transform the energy sector and establish a competitive electricity market, reported the PMG.

The president said that the bill would be tabled in parliament later this year.

The bill aims to establish an independent transmission company and provide for the emergence of a competitive electricity market.

Ramaphosa said that the bill – published by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy – proposes several amendments to the existing Electricity Regulation Act, and aims to broaden the regulatory framework for the electricity supply industry.

“The proposed amendments form part of several steps the country is taking to reform the electricity sector towards achieving a stable and secure supply of energy. They will also strengthen the performance of the electricity industry and ultimately create a conducive environment towards growing the economy,” said the president.

Postbank Ltd Amendment Bill

Ramaphosa 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 SONA, the president doubled down on the government’s plan for a state bank.

He said that the bank would seek to provide an affordable alternative to commercial banks that often turn citizens away as they lack collateral.

Minister of Communications, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, presented the bill to the National Assembly in May 2022.

This bill amends the South African Postbank Limited Act by adding and modifying definitions, enabling Postbank to operate independently from the South African Post Office (SAPO).

The bill would facilitate the transfer of Postbank’s shareholdings from SAPO to the government and establish a Bank Controlling Company (BCC) as a holding company for the bank.

Draft Public Procurement Bill

The Public Procurement Bill aims to address weaknesses identified by the State Capture Commission and improve efficiency, value for money and transparency.

Ramaphosa said the bill would be finalised soon – however, no specific date was provided.

Certain regulations dealing with preferential procurement – to be dealt with by the new bill – spawned controversy when it was originally published as it was misconstrued to rid BEE complaint requirements from contracts between organs of states and others.

Late last year, Ramaphosa sought to clarify the situation and stressed that empowerment in public procurement as it pertains to promoting those who have been historically disadvantaged remains a requirement.

The changes resulted from a Constitutional Court ruling that declared the preferential procurement regulations from 2017 to be unlawful and gave the Minister of Finance a deadline of 12 months to replace them.

According to Ramaphosa, the core issue of the court’s judgment was the extent of the Minister’s authority in making preferential procurement regulations.

The bill at large, however, seeks to address such issues, among others, such as the blacklisting of certain suppliers.

In November last year, the government said that it expected the bill to become law by March 2023.