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Haste for outstanding Bills

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The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development says it will push to have all its outstanding major IT-related Bills passed in April 2010.

Some of the outstanding Bills Parliament will have to tackle in 2010 include the Protection of Personal Information Bill, the Criminal Law (Forensics Procedures) Amendment Bill, the Post Bank Bill and amendments to the Labour Relations Act.

Parliament has closed for the year and is set to re-open on 25 January 2010. While several of the Bills have been approved, debate has raged in Parliament over implementation periods, budgets, ownership and management of the proposed amendments, and the constitutionality of some clauses in several Bills.

The department of Justice and Constitutional development says various departments have already begun implementing changes. While the Bills are yet to be signed into law, the department notes that it's only a matter of time before the legislation is enacted.

Following the approval of the draft Post Bank Bill by Cabinet earlier this year, the South African Post Office noted that improvements had already been made to its current IT infrastructure.

The Bill would allow the Post Bank to establish itself as a fully-fledged bank and transform it into a separate company to better position it in the country's financial sector. The process of corporatisation would allow it to obtain a banking licence and introduce a wider range of banking and financial services products.

DNA woes

Following debates on the ability of the police to implement recommended legislation, Parliament has proposed a new draft of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill, which would not contain any clauses proposing the establishment or operation of the proposed national DNA database.

The Bill currently allows for the creation of a database, using biometric technology, which would allow for DNA profiling, DNA typing, DNA fingerprinting or genetic fingerprinting. The profiling system would be linked to Hanis and eNatis.

The first phase of the proposed changes would be to give the SAPS access to the Department of Home Affairs' Hanis database and the Department of Transport's eNatis, and any state department for the purpose of compiling records. The SAPS had hoped this phase could be finalised before the end of 2010.

The second phase of the Bill would deal with the creation of the DNA database. This phase would be put on hold until investigations are completed, and could be finalised in 2010.

Privacy issues

The Protection of Personal Information Bill, which was submitted to the justice minister in February, aims to promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies. The Bill looks to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information and provide for the establishment of an information protection regulator.

In August, Cabinet approved the Bill to go before Parliament. The draft law has been nine years in the making and will have a profound impact on business. The SA Law Commission has been drafting the Bill since 2000 and issued the first discussion paper in 2003.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will spend over R35 million to pilot systems for the Bill, but costs for the widespread rollout of the proposed Bill are yet to be completed.

Justice and constitutional development minister Jeff Radebe previously stated the Bill was a priority and that government will move quickly to implement and enforce it.

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