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Three controversial new bills proposed for South Africa

The draft legislation most people are focused on is the Firearms Amendment Bill of 2021

Three controversial new laws proposed for SA

Three controversial new laws proposed for SA photo credit: canva

Government announced a number of controversial bills for South Africa, including regulations around firearms, foreign workers and discrimination.

Firearms

The draft legislation most people are focused on is the Firearms Amendment Bill of 2021, which proposes tighter control and management of firearms and the establishment of the National Firearms Register.

The changes are aimed at assisting in reducing the amount of firearms in private hands, consequently reducing incidents of violent crimes. The Bill also aims to improve the processing, control of firearms and the application system. The Bill also regulates the issuing of licenses to hunters, with applicants having to prove that they do hunt.

One of the aspects that are controversial relates to self-defense and the inclusion that “no firearm licenses may be issued for self-defense purposes”.

Foreign workers

Government has taken its first steps to regulate foreign workers, through a change in road traffic regulations which will effectively ban foreign truck drivers from working in South Africa.

At the end of April, Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi said that his department is currently working on the labour migration policy which will be tabled in cabinet soon.

Nxesi said that the policy will regulate and limit sectors on the number of people employers can hire from other countries especially in sectors that do not require sophisticated skills.

Discrimination

Concerns have also been raised around the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Bill which was recently published for public comment.

The main purpose of the Act is to realize the constitutional right to equality so that people do not face unfair discrimination by either the state or anyone else. However, legal experts have warned that the bill redefines the terms “equality” and “discrimination” to be much broader.

Specifically, the bill proposes to amend the definition of “discrimination” to make it clear that it is not necessary for a person to act with intention before they can be found guilty of unfair discrimination.

The definition of ‘equality’ has been broadened to include equal rights and access to resources, opportunities, benefits and advantages. The draft legislation also departs from the fault requirement found throughout South African law by creating liability for unintentional acts or omissions which cause prejudice to or undermine the dignity of a person.

Finally, it will make persons ‘vicariously liable’ for contraventions of the act performed by their workers, employees, or agents. This would include discrimination, hate speech and harassment.

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