President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined a number of planned pieces of legislation during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday (13 February).
While the president offered very little new information about the government’s policies, he did provide some much-needed detail on important topics such as land expropriation and interventions to reduce high data prices.
BusinessTech looked at some of the most notable planned laws below.
Land expropriation without compensation
Ramaphosa said that in 2020 government will implement key recommendations to accelerate land redistribution, expand agricultural production and transform the industry.
This will likely be a separate piece of legislation from the current amendment bill which aims to allow for land expropriation without compensation in South Africa’s Constitution.
“Government stands ready – following the completion of the Parliamentary process to amend section 25 of the Constitution – to table an Expropriation Bill that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible,” he said.
“To date, we have released 44,000 hectares of state land for the settlement of land restitution claims, and will this year release round 700,000 hectares of state land for agricultural production.
“We are prioritising youth, women, people with disabilities and those who have been farming on communal land and are ready to expand their operations for training and allocation of land.”
While Ramaphosa did not specify the circumstances where the expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible, the new bill is likely to be in-line with ANC’s push for a ‘land tsar’.
The ANC has indicated that it does not support the idea of courts being the decision-maker on whether or not the state will pay for land it expropriates.
It instead plans to give this power to the minister of land reform who will be the sole arbiter on land expropriation cases in the country.
Lower data prices
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa will conclude the licensing of high demand spectrum for industry via auction before the end of 2020, Ramaphosa said.
Because of additional requirements, the licensing of the wireless open-access network – or WOAN – is likely to be completed during the course of next year (2021), he said.
The planned legislation around spectrum is likely to directly lead to lower data prices in South Africa.
Speaking to MyBroadband in 2019, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the biggest obstacle impeding the reduction of data prices is the fact that no new spectrum has been allocated in South Africa in the last 14 years.
Ramaphosa also noted that the competition authorities are now working towards a resolution with the large mobile operators to secure deep cuts to data prices across pre-paid monthly bundles, additional discounts targeted at low-income households, a free daily allocation of data and free access to educational and other public interest websites.
Business and BEE
To create a larger market for small businesses, government will designate 1,000 locally produced products that must be procured from small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs), Ramaphosa said.
He added that new legislation will boost transformation efforts in the country.
“The Procurement Bill will soon be presented to Parliament as part of our efforts to empower black and emerging businesses and advance radical economic transformation,” he said.
Ramaphosa also reiterated his plans ‘Presidential Youth Employment Intervention’ which aims to create jobs for young South Africans – including an online platform that will match workers to opportunities.
Finally, Ramaphosa said that the government would establish a sovereign wealth fund and push through its plans for state bank.
Harsher punishments for criminals
Ramaphosa indicated that the government will introduce a number of key pieces of legislation to clamp down on crime in the country.
“We will amend the Domestic Violence Act to better protect victims in violent domestic relationships and the Sexual Offences Act to broaden the categories of sex offenders whose names must be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders, and we will pass a law to tighten bail and sentencing condition in cases that involve gender-based violence,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that SAPS would also establish a Crime Detection University in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, to boost policing in the country.
Ramaphosa said that the Presidential Commission on Climate Change will ensure that South Africa ‘move towards a low carbon growth trajectory’ that will leave no one behind.
“We will finalise the Climate Change Bill, which provides a regulatory framework for the effective management of inevitable climate change impacts by enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change – and identifying new industrial opportunities in the green economy,” he said.