The much-maligned National Health Insurance (NHI) bill has been tabled for Parliament’s consideration. Plans to prevent its rollout are already well underway, as medical professionals and opposition political parties vehemently oppose the proposals.
NHI in brief
- Opponents believe that NHI would essentially be another state-owned entity – potentially failing, like Eskom, Denel and SAA
- The taxpayer will fund the NHI
- General tax revenue will include transferring funds from provincial health budgets to the NHI Fund
- Taxpayers’ medical scheme fees tax credit will be reallocated to the NHI Fund
- A payroll tax (employer and employee) will be implemented
- A surcharge on personal income tax will be implemented
- The bill obscures what the NHI rollout would cost, but three figures include R165 billion, R259 billion and R450 billion
- There are roughly 21 million taxpayers in South Africa
- Only 30% of them – about 7.6 million people – are actually registered to pay tax or sit above the annual income threshold
- Taxpayers would pay between R7 857 and R21 428 per person for NHI
- If everyone in South Africa had to contribute, they would pay between R2 807 and R7 656 per person
By Tom Head for The South African
The National Qualifications Amendment Bill is not here to play, ladies and gentlemen. The adjustment to the existing legislation comes with some pretty stern updates, which aims to clamp-down on dishonesty from applicants who embellish the truth on a CV.
The South African Qualifications Association (SAQA) will be charged with monitoring the registered qualifications of each citizen in South Africa. That’s quite the task for such a modest regulatory body, but the ANC has voted the move through in Parliament.
What is the National Qualifications Amendment Bill?
Cyril Ramaphosa now has the final say on what happens next – it’ll be his decision on whether the government should plough ahead with the proposals should they remain in power after Wednesday 8 May.
The bill isn’t likely to impact working-to-middle class workers too much, but it will serve as a deterrent to citizens applying for high-profile jobs. Executives, CEOs and even our politicians will be subject to rigorous background checks. If they are found to be lying about their educational history, stiff penalties await:
“Any person convicted of an offence in terms of this act is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a term of no longer than five years, or to both a fine and such imprisonment.”
“Any person, educational institution, board member or director may be ordered to close its business and be declared unfit to register a new business for a period not exceeding 10 years.”
Lying on your CV could soon be a serious legal issue
The punishment is not retroactive – so if your name is Jacob Zuma or Hlaudi Motsoeneng, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But if Ramaphosa decides to give this the green light, you may well have told your last porkie on a resume.
As IOL report, 97 national qualifications and 95 foreign qualifications were misrepresented between last October and November. That increased the total number of fraudulent applications up to 1 564 over the past 10 years.
The bill also aims to publish a “name and shame” list for those who try and push their luck just a little too far. So, if your CV is looking a little bare at the moment, try and think outside of the box – and not outside of reality.
The rand briefly broke below R14.00 to the US dollar following the news that Parliament’s portfolio committee on public works withdrew its expropriation bill on Tuesday.
The public works committee said in a short statement that it “officially resolved, in accordance with Joint Rule 208 (2), to reject (withdraw) the Expropriation Bill [B4D of 2015] so that it may be re-introduced at a later stage”. The bill is separate to the review of section 25 of the Constitution currently under way to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation.
The rand, which immediately firmed to R13.95/$, returned to trade 0.06% firmer at R14.15 to the greenback by 17:13 in Johannesburg.
Important to note is that the expropriation bill existed before the latest processes on land expropriation and was referred back to Parliament by former president Jacob Zuma, who said consultation around the bill was inadequate.
Zuma returned the bill to parliament in 2017 due to inadequate public participation for the bill.
During its December conference, the ANC and its delegates agreed that expropriating land without compensation should be among mechanisms to effect land reform.
The condition was that expropriation should not undermine the economy, agricultural production and food security.
The constitutional review committee is due to report back to Parliament regarding its findings from the nationwide hearings on expropriation soon.
The controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill, labelled by some as the “Internet Censorship Bill”, has been passed by the National Assembly.
According to the Parliamentary Monitoring group, the Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 6 March and will now be transmitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence. After that it heads to the desk of the president to be signed into law.
The Bill is supposed to address the shortcomings of the Films and Publications Act of 1996, but has come under fierce scrutiny since it was first gazetted, with many calling for it to be overhauled for infringing on freedom of speech.
The Bill aims to make changes in order to provide for technological advances, especially online and social media platforms, in order to protect children from being exposed to disturbing or harmful media content. It also aims to curb revenge porn and hate speech.
According to Eyewitness News, opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) criticised the legislation saying it amounts to censorship and may be unconstitutional. The vote in the National Assembly was reportedly 189 in favour, 35 against with no abstentions.
Opponents of the Bill in the past voiced concerns over the vague and broad terminology used; stipulations that would see the Film and Publication Board (FPB) overstepping into the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA’s) regulatory jurisdiction; and that it contained constitutional infringements on citizens’ right to privacy and freedom of expression. Last year, the FPB made some changes to the Bill after it received many comments from the public and industry players.
The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, said the country’s new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill will be tabled in Parliament soon.
The Bill has already been approved by Cabinet.
“The Bill aims to put in place a coherent and integrated cybersecurity statutory framework to address various shortcomings which exist in dealing with cybercrime and cybersecurity in the country,” stated the SA Government website.
The purpose of the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill is to:
- Create offences and prescribe penalties;
- Further regulate jurisdiction;
- Further regulate the powers to investigate, search and gain access to or seize items;
- Further regulate aspects of international cooperation in respect of the investigation of cybercrime;
- Provide for the establishment of a 24/7 point of contact;
- Provide for the establishment of various structures to deal with cybersecurity;
- Regulate the identification and declaration of National Critical Information Infrastructures and provides for measures to protect National Critical Information Infrastructures;
- Further regulate aspects relating to evidence;
- Impose obligations on electronic communications service providers regarding aspects which may impact on cybersecurity;
- Provide that the President may enter into agreements with foreign States to promote cybersecurity; and
- Repeal and amend certain laws.
How it will affect you
Michalsons law firm has published an overview of the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, explaining why we need it and who will be affected by it. The bill is aimed at keeping South Africans safe from cybercrime and consolidates the country’s cybercrime laws into one place.
People who will be affected by the new bill include “everyone who uses a computer or the Internet”, along with:
- People involved with IT or POPI compliance;
- Electronic Communications Service Providers;
- Providers of software or hardware tools that could be used to commit offences;
- Financial services providers;
- Owners of copyrights and pirates;
- Information Security experts; and
- Anyone who owns an Information Infrastructure that Government could declare as critical.
What the bill deals with
The bill creates around 50 new offences, which are related to data, messages, computers, and networks, said Michalsons.
These offences include:
- Using personal information or financial information to commit an offence;
- Unlawful interception of data;
- Computer-related forgery and uttering; and
- Extortion or terrorist activity.
The penalties for these offences range from 1-10 years in prison or up to a R10-million fine.
The bill also aims to protect critical infrastructure of a strategic nature from interference and disruption.
This infrastructure includes that which aids in keeping the country’s security, defence, and law enforcement operational; and provides essential services.
Powers to investigate
“The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill gives the South African Police and the State Security Agency extensive powers to investigate, search, access, and seize just about anything – like a computer, database, or network,” said Michalsons.
As part of the requirements of the bill, the Minister of Police must establish a National Cybercrime Centre and a Cyber Response Committee, of which the chairperson will be the Director-General: State Security.
The Minister of Defence must also establish and operate a Cyber Command, while the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services must establish a Cyber Security Hub.