• Policy Watch SA

IN THE LOOP (5)

Updated: a day ago


Vol. 1 No. 5 (covering the week ending 27 August 2021)


DISASTER MANAGEMENT


A Second Special Appropriation Bill was tabled in Parliament with the aim of addressing 'the impact of … recent unrest' and the effect in certain sectors of ongoing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Bill covers 'expenditure authorised by the Minister' for reintroducing the social relief of distress grant and providing more support to struggling small businesses.


RULES & REGULATIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST


Promotion of access to information regulations in place since 2002 have been repealed and replaced.


POLICY & LEGISLATION OF GENERAL INTEREST


The National Assembly has extended the life of the ad hoc committee responsible for preparing and tabling a Constitution 18th Amendment Bill to expressly provide for expropriation with nil compensation for land reform purposes. The committee is now considering a revised draft Bill, the preparation of which was informed by a report on the public's response to proposals in the second draft, as advertised in June for public comment.


Public hearings on the revised Expropriation Bill have resumed. According to National Assembly Public Works & Infrastructure Committee media statements on proceedings in the Northern Cape's Khai Ma, Dawid Kruiper and Kathu municipalities:

  • most participants opposed the Bill, drawing attention to concerns about its potential to undermine property rights; impact negatively on land values, the economy and food security; and discourage investment

  • the representatives of local Khoi and San communities supported the Bill, expecting it to address past injustices and facilitate opportunities for economic development.

A committee statement on the hearings in Kimberley referred to support for the Bill from most participants, citing a raft of reasons regularly expressed during this and the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill public consultation process. Among other things, the Bill's detractors expressed concerns about:

  • government's failure to 'empower beneficiaries with the skills and post-redistribution support necessary to ensure success'

  • the 'title deeds backlog', as evidence of 'a ploy to ensure state custodianship of property'

  • 'the state’s ability to absorb debt taken by property owners, especially in the context of ... increasing unemployment and (the) shrinking tax base'.

Hearings in the Free State began in Mangaung, where (in addition to reiterating concerns regularly expressed throughout the public participation process) the Bill's critics drew attention to its possibly negative implications for 'orderly agricultural development' and 'other forms of property, such as pensions, copyright and shares'.


The revised Employment Equity Amendment Bill is ready for a second reading debate in National Assembly, having been adopted by its Employment & Labour Committee. If endorsed, the Bill will be sent to the NCOP for concurrence. It now reflects the entire agreement reached between social partners in the National Economic Development & Labour Council on determining sector specific targets.


The DA has tabled a Public Administration Laws General Amendment Bill intended, among other things, to ‘elucidate the powers of the Public Service Commission' in issuing directions on 'recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals'; and to grant it 'the power to take remedial action’. As a private member's Bill, it will eventually face the hurdle of a 'desirability' vote in the National Assembly committee to which it has been referred. To date, no DA Bill has passed this test.


POLICY & LEGISLATION OF SECTOR-SPECIFIC INTEREST


All written submissions on clauses in the remitted 2017 Copyright Amendment Bill advertised in June for comment are now available. Links to these documents are included

in a National Assembly Trade & Industry Committee media statement explaining that the submissions were withheld pending the conclusion of a process apparently prescribed in the 2000 Promotion of Access to Information Act.


OUT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT


A call has been made for written submissions on the Prevention & Combating of Hate Crimes & Hate Speech Bill, which is now being processed by the National Assembly’s Justice & Correctional Service Committee.


Draft regulations on financial provisioning for mining-related environmental damage have been released for comment as a next step in the process of repealing and replacing the 2015 regulations.


FROM THE POWERS THAT BE


'We have to ask ourselves what are the preconditions for a social security grant proposed in these reforms. As a country, we should sequence our current economic priorities and we should not confuse our aspirations with what is possible economically. Many countries that have social security funds have good economic growth. Currently, we have an economy that is faced with many fiscal risks' (Finance Deputy Minister David Masondo, referring to a ‘comprehensive social security and retirement reform’ Green Paper recently gazetted for public comment)


'The National School of Government course will equip officials to undertake the socio-economic impact assessment system process meaningfully and efficiently’ (Public Service & Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo) ('policies and legislation brought before Cabinet need to go through a mandatory socio-economic impact assessment process' and the course has been designed to 'help improve' its 'quality')


'(South Africa's) debt to gross domestic product is the largest in the world. The major driver of this debt is the wage bill and the perennial bail-out of state-owned enterprises, and there are requests in the pipeline for additional funding for some' (National Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane)


'The murder of Ms Deokaran should not deter South Africans and public servants from reporting allegations of corruption, malpractice, greed and maladministration in the affairs government departments, municipalities and state-owned entities' (Special Investigating Unit)


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