NATIONAL NEWS - South Africans can expect a lot of changes in the coming months after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a number of new amendments into law.
These include the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO), National Health Insurance (NHI) and the National Credit Amendment Bill. South African households will also need to install a new plug and outlet system in their homes because the old power system was too dangerous.
Here is more info on these changes.
1. The National Credit Amendment Bill
The National Credit Amendment Bill was signed into law early last week and it is aimed at over-indebted consumers. The bill makes provisions for consumers who earn less than R 7500 to apply to have their R50 000 insecure debt cleared in part or in full depending on their circumstances.
It could result in 9.5 million overburdened South Africans having their debts written off. Banks have opposed this new bill stating that it could jeopardise low-income South Africans from getting credit for up to a year.
2. The National Health Insurance Bill
National Health Insurance Bill was announced during President Ramaphosa’s Budget Speech in 2018 and it has finally been passed. The government describes it as “a financing system that will make sure that all citizens of South Africa (and legal long-term residents) are provided with essential healthcare, regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the NHI Fund.”
It would take funds from the national health budget, private healthcare expenditure and higher personal income tax to be able to provide an additional R162 billion from private healthcare funds to the R222.6 billion state health budget.
Experts who approve of it have stated that it could address the inequalities in the private and public health sectors of the country and give poor people access to private healthcare. The ones who oppose this bill predict that the poor will also have to pay for this service through higher VAT prices and that it will destroy medical aid schemes in future.
There is also fear that setting up another state-owned entity could lead to more corruption. The government has asked the public for comment and input in shaping the NHI Bill.
3. The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act
President Ramaphosa also signed the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill into law, which has been debated for years. The bill will see South Africa’s new traffic demerit point system come into play for road offences.
During the National Press Club briefing last year, AARTO was described as having a mandate to “migrate the prosecution of road traffic offences for which an admission of guilt fine may be paid from the Criminal Procedure Act and the judicial authority of the courts to an administrative, process-driven scheme, orchestrated by a far from independent State Owned Enterprise which is funded almost entirely by traffic fines and the fees raised on them.”
This is probably why organisations such as Outa are set to constitutionally challenge this Act in court. The spokesperson for the organisation Rudie Heyneke said: “The accused will be considered guilty and will have to prove their innocence.”
4. New compulsory plug and outlet system for SA households
South Africa’s three-pronged, rounded pin plugs have been a dangerous hazard since the 1950s because they can cause fires and electrocutions. From this year onwards, South African households will have to install the new SANS 164-2 plug and outlet system. The new plug has three pins, including an earth pin to protect the users from electric shock. The standard two-pin plugs are still allowed in SA for products that do not require to be earthed, including cell phone chargers. The SANS 164-2 socket-outlet can also accept up to six plugs in one box. It is still unclear how this will affect products with the old rounded plugs.