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Parliamentary Bulletin

25 November 1997


LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS THIS QUARTER


The final session of Parliament this year saw a number of important Bills being passed by both Houses, which will significantly add to the pace of transformation of our country. This bulletin gives a brief overview of some of the Bills.

NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS BILL

The purpose of this Bill is to make it easier for nonprofit organisations to operate. A Directorate for Non Profit Organisations will be established to coordinate policy, to implement a simplified voluntary registration system for non-profit organisations, and to make and implement policy for such organisations.

All restrictions on fund-raising are removed and organisations will no longer any need for a fund-raising number.

The Bill obliges the Minister to make regulations governing the conduct and practices of non-profit organisations.

PUBLIC FUNDING OF REPRESENTED POLITICAL PARTIES BILL

This Bill provides the legislation for a fund is to be established, the Representative Political Parties` Fund, out of which funds are allocated to political parties represented in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

A formula is provided according to which allocations will be made. Funds may only be used towards functioning as a political party.

WELFARE LAWS AMENDMENT BILL

This Bill phases out the old maintenance grant, and replaces it with a new child support grant, which will reach ten times as many children. The new grant will be payable to the child`s care-giver, and will follow the child if the child is cared for by different people, ensuring that the grant goes to the child and not the parent.

MEDICAL, DENTAL & SUPPLEMENTARY HEALTH SERVICE PROFESSIONS AMENDMENT BILL

The Bill provides for the establishment of the Health Professions Council of South Africa and professional boards for health professions and abolishes the Interim Medical and Dental Council of South Africa. It provides for control over the training, registration and practices of health professionals. It includes steps to bring equality in health professions, to deal with registration of persons who qualified outside the Republic.

HOUSING BILL

This Bill defines the role of the three tiers of government in the housing delivery process. It repeals all existing housing legislation and establishes the framework which will guide housing development in our country, with the ultimate aim of providing all South Africans with decent housing, close to facilities and with suitable infrastructure.

It provides for the control of funds by the National Department so that national housing programmes are financed in the most effective way. It makes provincial governments accountable for the administration of housing programmes.

A National Housing Code will be established, and a national housing data bank and information system will provide accurate housing information.

MEDICINE & RELATED SUBSTANCES CONTROL BILL

One of the main benefits of this Bill will be the supply of more affordable medicines to the people of South Africa. Pharmacies will be obliged to offer patients cheaper `generic` medicines, i.e. medicines which contain the same ingredients and are identical to branded medicines, but are usually much cheaper. It also allows for the `parallel importation` of medicines, where an identical product made by the same company, but in a country other than where the South African distributor purchases it at a lower price.

It provides for the speedy registration of essential medicines, it prohibits the bonusing and sampling of medicines and prescribes a code of ethics for the marketing policies of pharmaceutical companies.

EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL

This Bill allows schools to appoint extra teachers and non-teaching staff. It requires schools to first consider employing teachers from the redeployment list, and if none is suitable, the school can motivate to employ teachers not on the list. It ensures that immovable property of ex-Model C Schools remains the property of the State.

PHARMACY AMENDMENT BILL

This Bill aims to increase the range of outlets at which medicines can be dispensed and to abolish the monopoly that pharmacies have over the ownership of pharmacies.

It also establishes the South African Pharmacy Council, which will replace the Interim Pharmacy Council.

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE SECOND AMENDMENT BILL

This Bill is aimed at strengthening the fight against crime by making it almost impossible for people accused of serious crimes to get bail. It eliminates the right of an accused to immediate bail hearings, outside of normal court hours. It also ensures that bail applications are heard by higher courts, and that if there is very strong community feeling that an accused should not get bail, this can be taken into account. Accused will no longer be entitled to the police docket at bail hearings which will prevent the intimidation of witnesses.

CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT BILL

This legislation lays down minimum sentences for offences that were formerly punishable by death or other forms of physical punishment.

PAROLE AND CORRECTIONAL SUPERVISION AMENDMENT BILL

This Bill extends the power of courts to ensure that a compulsory period of a sentence is served before a prisoner can be released on parole.

     
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