3 major new laws Ramaphosa is set to sign now that the elections are over.

Demerit system

The National Assembly officially voted in favour of South Africa’s controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) bill at the beginning of March.

With the bill having passed both houses, it will now be sent to president Cyril Ramaphosa for assent and to be signed into law.

The amendment bill is expected to fundamentally change driving in South Africa, with some of the biggest changes including:

  • Failing to pay traffic fines can lead to a block on obtaining driving and vehicle licences and an administrative fee – in addition to other penalties;
  • Where documents previously had to be delivered by registered mail through the post office, in terms of the amendment, authorities will now also be able to serve documents electronically and can send reminders via WhatsApp and SMS;
  • A new demerit system will be introduced. Depending on the severity of the offence, 1-6 points are allocated for offences. If an infringer has more than 12 points, it will result in the disqualification of the driving licence and three suspensions result in its cancellation;
  • The establishment of a new Appeals Tribunal which will preside over issues that are raised under the new bill.

Debt relief

The National Credit Amendment Bill was officially passed by the National Council of Provinces on 8 March and has now been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law.

The bill aims to provide relief to over-indebted South Africans who have no other means of extracting themselves from over-indebtedness.

Specifically, the bill will allow certain applicants to have their debt suspended in part or in full for up to 24 months.

This debt may then be extinguished altogether if the financial circumstances of the applicant do not improve.

The criteria for meeting this debt write-off include:

  • Where the unsecured debt is not more than R50,000;
  • Where the unsecured debt was accrued through unsecured credit agreements, unsecured short term credit transactions or unsecured credit facilities only;
  • Where the person earned no more than R7,500 a month over the last six months;
    The bill also introduces a number of new offences related to debt intervention.

Under the bill, it will now be an offence for a person who intentionally submits false information related to debt intervention.

Any person who intentionally alters his or her financial circumstances, or persons who intentionally alter their joint financial circumstances, to qualify for debt intervention, will also be guilty of an offence.

The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) made it clear that it does not support the principle of debt forgiveness – for very obvious financial reasons, but also for what it would do to the lending and credit industry.

Aside from the costs banks would incur writing off the debt, the most likely reaction from banks would be to make lending conditions much tighter which would make it more difficult for the poor to secure credit, Basa said

CV fraud

The National Council of Provinces has officially adopted the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill, and the legislation has now been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.

The new bill aims to prevent South African individuals from misrepresenting their qualifications by allowing for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to establish and maintain separate registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications.

In addition to these new registers which will effectively ‘name and shame’ individuals who had been found to be holding fraudulent qualifications, the bill also introduces harsh consequences for those who are caught lying about their achievements.

Under the new act, any person convicted of an offence is liable to a fine and/or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.

BusinessTech: 17 May 2019