South Africa’s Parliament is expected to deal with several important pieces of legislation in 2022, including issues around land expropriation and healthcare.
Data provided by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) shows that 37 bills are currently before parliamentary committees, 33 with the National Assembly and four with the National Council of Provinces.
A total of 21 bills were passed in 2021 – three fewer than in 2020. Out of these bills, nine were money bills linked to the main and supplementary budgets.
Some of the significant bills set to be considered in 2022 are outlined in more detail below.
National Health Insurance
The Portfolio Committee on Health is currently processing the National Health Insurance Bill, the first piece of enabling legislation for the government’s ambition to implement universal health coverage. The bill was introduced to Parliament in August 2019, and throughout 2021, a total of 22 public hearings were held.
The National Health Insurance (NHI) is a health financing system designed to pool funds to provide access to quality affordable personal health services for all South Africans based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status.
NHI seeks to realise universal health coverage for all. This means that every South African will have a right to access comprehensive healthcare services free of charge at the point of use at accredited health facilities such as clinics, hospitals and private health practitioners. This will be done using an NHI card. The services will be delivered closest to where people live or work.
While the system was first mooted as far back as 2012, the National Treasury does not expect South Africa’s National Health Insurance to be a significant cost pressure in the medium term, with the scheme’s planned implementation progressing at a glacial pace.
In its Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), Treasury said that a limited costing of the national health insurance policy proposal has previously shown that it would require about R40 billion annually in additional funding in the first five years and likely considerably more over time.
“At present, however, there is insufficient capacity in the health sector to work substantively on national health insurance. The national health insurance indirect grant has been underspent, the National Health Insurance Fund has not yet been established, and the National Health Insurance Bill still needs to be passed by parliament.
“It is therefore unlikely that national health insurance will be a significant cost pressure in the medium term,” it said.
After undergoing several revisions, the Expropriation Bill has continued to make headway in the National Assembly legislative pipeline. Introduced to Parliament in October 2020, the bill spent most of 2020 undergoing a public consultation process.
Notably, this bill is separate from the planned section 25 Constitutional change, which failed to pass in parliament at the end of 2020.
It sets out the possibility of expropriation with nil compensation in cases where:
- The land has been abandoned,
- The land is a health and safety risk,
- The land is held for speculative purposes
- It is state-owned land.
As in 2021, the issue of land expropriation without compensation is likely to be a key issue for lawmakers in 2022, although it remains to be seen whether a Constitutional change or legislation amendments will ultimately be necessary.
Parliament’s National Assembly passed the Employment Equity Amendment Bill in November 2021 and has sent the draft law to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
The bill will allow the Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi to set employment equity targets for different business sectors. The minister can set targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions.
It also aims to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and add rules for doing business with the government.
The Department of Employment and Labour has previously indicated that it plans to introduce the new sector-specific equity rules in 2022.
“The expected introduction of five-year sector targets will mark the beginning of a clean slate,” said the department’s director of employment equity Ntsoaki Mamashela said in September.
“All current employment equity plans will fall away on 22 September 2022, and the new plans will have to be aligned with five-year targets. Self-regulation has not worked,” she said.
The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill is currently making its way through parliament following its introduction in September 2020.
The bill outlines possession rules for cannabis users at home and people who wish to cultivate the plant. It also introduces new offences and provisions for people who previously received a criminal record for cannabis possession.
The draft bill states that an adult person may for personal use:
- Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis plant cultivation material;
- Cultivate the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a private place;
- Possess in private the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a public place;
- Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a private place;
- Possess in private the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a public place.
The bill defines a ‘private place’ as any place, including a building, house, room, shed, hut, tent, mobile home, caravan, boat or land or any portion thereof, to which the public does not have access as of right.
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