Parliament has entered its fourth and final term for 2022 with some major and key legislation sitting on the desk.

According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG), ministers are expected to do some heavily legislative lifting over the next eight weeks, as approximately 50 bills are sitting before them.

A handful of these bills will take up a fair sum of Parliamentary spotlight, focusing on national health, land expropriation, the 2024 election and education.

Below are some of the key laws currently going through the legislative process that will be taken into consideration or passed in the upcoming months.

National Health Insurance Bill

Government plans to accelerate the provision of universal access to quality healthcare for all South Africans through the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI Bill).

The bill’s main objective is to establish a National Health Insurance Fund that provides a framework for the strategic purchasing of healthcare services and creates the mechanisms to meet the healthcare needs of its users.

Despite ambitious goals, contention has grown around the bill and the idea of a National Health Insurance Scheme at large.

Section 33 of the NHI bill that states limits what private medical schemes can cover so that it does not overlap with the benefits of NHI, has been heavily criticised.

Private healthcare groups who oppose the NHI believe it is unsustainable and unmanageable; a recent survey from financial services firm PwC added that the private sector does not believe there will be improvements to healthcare.

It found that there is not enough public trust in government-run healthcare systems especially given the scale that government wants to stretch the NHI to.

Expropriation Bill

The national assembly just passed the Expropriation Bill towards the end of September with the aim to provide for the expropriation of property for public purposes or in the public interest.

It was originally struck down last year and continues to drive controversy. According to the National Assembly, the bill will repeal the existing Expropriation Act and provide a common framework in line with Constitutional provisions.

Deliberations over the bill extend back to November of 2020, with September this year having weekly consultations in an attempt to refine its scope and application.

The bill also makes it possible for the expropriation of land with “nil compensation” in the cases of abandoned land, state land, or land held for speculative purposes.

Electoral Law Amendment Bill

In order to make provisions for the election of independent candidates to the national Parliament and provincial legislatures, the Electoral Amendment Bill will amend the Electoral Act of 1998.

The new bill also aims to resolve concerns regarding member compensation for those employed in the Electoral Commission of South Africa.

After numerous delays, the Electoral Amendment Bill, according to Parliament, has now reached a “workable system” and is in the final phases of the legislative process.

The bill has been in Parliament since June 2020 and has undergone weekly deliberations this year since May.

Questions about its constitutionality have been raised, with various civil society organisations considering legal action against the bill noting that its introduction would be unconstitutional – as it would still favour political parties over independents.

Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill

The new education bill drafted in consultation with the Department of Basic Education will provide updated provisions to certain elements of the South African Schools Act – including stricter rules around attendance, admissions and language policies.

When enacted into law, the bill turned act will introduce the following key points:

  • School attendance in South Africa will be compulsory from grade R and no longer only from grade 1.
  • For parents who fail to ensure their children attend school, stricter punishments will be introduced, including jail time and/or a fine of up to 12 months.
  • Abolished of corporeal punishment, and no person may inflict or impose corporal punishment on a learner at a school, during a school activity, or in a hostel accommodating learners of a school.
  • Members of a school governing body, like other public officials, will be required to disclose on an annual basis their financial interests and the financial interests of their spouse, partner and immediate family members.
  • Further clarity around home-schooling, including that South African learners, may be educated at home only if registered for such education.
  • Prohibition of educators from conducting business with the state or from being a director of a public or private company conducting business with the state creates an offence should an educator contravene the abovementioned provision.

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