Controversial RABS Bill revived in Parliament – Where we are now
09 Jan 2020
On 29 October, 2019, the proposed Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill – which lapsed at the start of the year – was revived for consideration in Parliament.
Some background on the RABS Bill
Rejection of the proposed RABS Bill in 2018
Towards the end of 2018, the proposed RABS Bill was tabled before the National Assembly.
In response to gross problems with the Bill – described by critics as immoral and unconstitutional – opposition parties staged a walkout. This left too few parliamentarians attending the sitting to pass the legislation.
In subsequent parliamentary debate, the Bill was rejected by all parties other than the ANC.
Lapsing of the proposed RABS Bill in 2019
Parliamentary records show that the proposed RABS Bill lapsed on 9 January, 2019.
Deirdre Carter of the Congress of People (Cope), who was involved in debating the Bill in 2018, noted that, “Every single political party, with the exception of the ANC, felt that it is not in the best interest of the people.”
However, despite overwhelming opposition, the ANC hasn’t given up pushing for adoption of the Bill.
Revival of the RABS Bill in parliament
DSC Attorneys director, Kirstie Haslam, notes that the revival of the proposed RABS Bill “is nothing unexpected and was planned all along by the ANC.”
For those concerned by major flaws and a lack of fairness in the proposed RABS, the news isn’t all bad.
The proposed Bill has been revived on condition that it be referred back to the relevant Portfolio Committee.
Haslam notes that, “the RABS Bill has gone backwards. The issue of its adoption has gone from a final second reading in Parliament – a point at which the Bill could have been finally approved – to being an item on the Portfolio Committee on Transport’s (PoCT) 2020/2021 agenda, amidst many other high priorities.”
A need for better solutions than the RABS
It’s vital to address the financial and administrative challenges facing the existing Road Accident Fund (RAF). These challenges include administrative inefficiency, a huge case backlog and a significant financial shortfall.
Clearly, however, the solution isn’t to replace the RAF with a worse, less feasible system.
If it were to go ahead, the proposed RABS would compromise the rights of accident victims, especially those who are already most vulnerable – children, the elderly and the poor.
It’s also estimated that it would result in a massive increase in the fuel levy, increasing the burden on cash-strapped South Africans.
Find out more in our previous article, covering some of the key problems with the proposed RABS.
What next with the RABS Bill?
For the moment, opposition parties in parliament and advocacy groups, including the Association for the Protection of Road Accident Vehicles (APRAV), have successfully delayed adoption of the proposed RABS.
However, the ruling party and its representatives in the Department of Transport may push hard for adoption of the Bill now that it has been revived.
At DSC Attorneys, we remain committed to protecting the rights of South African road accident victims and their families.
We believe the proposed RABS Bill would compromise the rights of South Africans, including taxpayers and those injured in and directly affected by road accidents.
As such, we have been closely involved in parliamentary debate surrounding RABS. We continue to monitor developments. We have also partnered with APRAV to fight adoption of the RABS Bill.
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